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Additional COVID booster dose may be recommended in fall

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 6:21 AM EST
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(CNN) - Nearly two years after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, case counts in the United States are on the decline overall.

New cases are averaging roughly 103,000 per day, the lowest level since early December when the omicron variant was surging. Hospitalizations have declined 26% from last week.

But with just 28% of Americans now boosted and the pace of vaccinations slowing, experts say the push for full vaccination and boosting remains critical.

“I think it’s safe to assume that we’re not done vaccinating for this virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst.

Indeed, an additional recommended booster dose, the fourth dose total of Moderna or Pfizer, may be ahead. The Food and Drug Administration says while it’s continuing to monitor new data, officials could recommend another booster in the fall.

“Many of us expect that in the years to come, we will have yearly doses of COVID vaccine, the same way that we do for the flu vaccine, in order to protect us against new variants that rear their head as we go into cold weather months,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, professor of emergency medicine at Brown University.

At the current time, a fourth dose is only recommended for immunocompromised people.

Both scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have to agree before a fourth vaccine dose is added for the general public.

This comes amid encouraging news about COVID treatments.

According to a new, not peer-reviewed study in India, Merck’s antiviral drug, molnupiravir, cut hospitalization risk by 65%, an improvement over a previous study of the drug. It was approved by the FDA in December to treat some cases.

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