US rollout of new COVID-19 boosters off to slow start

In this file photo taken on Aug 19, 2021, a nurse fills a syringe with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic hosted by The Tournament of Roses in partnership with the Pasadena Public Health Department at Tournament House in Pasadena, California. (ROBYN BECK / AFP)

MOSCOW / UNITED NATIONS – Updated COVID-19 boosters have gone into 4.4 million arms in the United States since a new revaccination campaign began three weeks ago, government data shows, a slower pace for the shots targeting the Omicron variant of the coronavirus than the rollout of the first boosters last year.

The government said earlier this week it has shipped 25 million of the Omicron-tailored shots, mostly from Pfizer/BioNTech.

Production of the similarly retooled Moderna shots has been slower due to what the US Food and Drug Administration flagged as quality control issues at a contract manufacturing site run by Catalent Inc

Production of the similarly retooled Moderna shots has been slower due to what the US Food and Drug Administration flagged as quality control issues at a contract manufacturing site run by Catalent Inc.

The FDA on Tuesday said it had cleared some vaccine from that plant.

Last year, when the United States initially authorized COVID boosters just for older and immunocompromised people, nearly 10 million received their third shot in the first three weeks.

The latest data, released late on Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did show increased interest in the Omicron shots over demand for the older boosters during the previous three weeks.

In those three weeks, about 930,000 people received booster shots of the old vaccines available to those aged 50 and older or at risk for severe disease, according to CDC data.

Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, said he expects demand for the updated shots to be low, "as has been the case with boosters from the very beginning."

"I think that stems from kind of the poor messaging in the way this booster campaign and prior booster campaigns have been managed, as political issues rather than focusing on where boosters are going to beneficial," he said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on Sept 20, 2022.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for efforts to close three major gaps to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, the booster gap. Vaccine booster coverage remains low everywhere. Low-income countries, in particular, are still struggling, with only 35 percent of healthcare workers and 31 percent of older populations fully vaccinated and boosted, he said.

"Our top priority continues to be getting vaccines into arms. This must include addressing the shadow pandemic of vaccine hesitancy, and countering misinformation with life-saving facts," he told a high-level event on ending the pandemic.

Second, the testing gap. Testing rates are plummeting everywhere, exposing the world to potential variants and undermining the rollout of new treatments. Giving these new medicines a chance means dramatically expanding testing and treatment coverage, especially for low- and middle-income countries, he said.

Third, the preparedness gap. Now is the time to strengthen defense against future threats by investing in early-warning systems, local manufacturing and diagnostic capabilities, and a well-paid, well-supplied health workforce. The world must never be caught so unprepared again, he said.

"Making progress toward closing these gaps is what today is all about. It's time to build political momentum to finish the job on COVID-19. Let's get it done. Let's end this pandemic — once and for all," said Guterres.

READ MORE: Five factors to ensure pandemic fund's success


Russia registered 53,335 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 20,694,894, the official monitoring and response center said Friday.

The nationwide death toll increased by 104 to 386,551, while the number of recoveries increased by 57,625 to 19,652,187, the center said.

Meanwhile, according to the center, Moscow reported 4,923 new cases, taking its total to 3,172,913.