On Thursday, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (or VRBPAC) met to discuss the future of COVID-19 vaccines. While the committee readily agreed that our current, Omicron-specific shots are working well and should be used more broadly, it had a hard time answering other questions about future vaccine regimens—largely due to a lack of good data.
COVID-19 is still a public health emergency. At the moment, this is true according to both the general definition of this term and official declarations by the federal government. But the latter could change in the coming months, likely leading to more fragmentation in U.S. COVID-19 data.
This week, the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee met to discuss fall booster shots, in anticipation of another COVID-19 surge next winter. The discussion demonstrated the U.S.’s continued failure to provide the data that are really needed to make these decisions.
Two new studies on Long COVID, published this week, provide an important reminder of the continued dangers this condition poses to people infected with the coronavirus—even after vaccination. Neither study provides wholly new information, but both are more comprehensive than many other U.S. papers on this condition as they’re based on large databases of electronic health records.
Last fall, I wrote that the U.S. did not have the data we needed to make informed decisions about booster shots. Several months later, we still don’t have the data we need, as questions about a potential BA.2 wave and other future variants abound. Discussions at a recent FDA advisory committee meeting made these data gaps clear.
This week, I had a big retrospective story published at FiveThirtyEight: I looked back at the major metrics that the U.S. has used to track COVID-19 over the past two years—and how our country’s fractured public health system hindered our use of each one.