If 2021 was the year when most of America got vaccinated against COVID-19, 2022 might be the year of the COVID-19 booster shot.
Gritstone Oncology Inc. is the Emeryville company that’s creating a second generation COVID vaccine. CEO Dr. Andrew Allen says the goal is to create a booster shot that protects people from evolving coronavirus variants.
“Everyone has heard about the UK variant, the South Africa variant,” said Allen. “We want to generate immunity that is effective across all these variants so that we stop having to worry about it quite as much as we do know.”
Testing is underway. A group of 100 people have received the booster shot, as part of a Phase One trial.
“It’s a wide range of folks,” said Allen. “The National Institute of Health is running this study, so this is Dr. Fauci’s team at NIAID.”
So who would benefit most from these COVID-19 booster shots? NBC Bay Area posed that question to Dr. Lee Riley, who studies infectious diseases at UC Berkeley.
“I think at risk groups such as people who have underlying medical conditions, immunosuppressive conditions, older individuals, they may need boosters sooner,” said Riley.
Allen said he doesn't yet know if they would be a once-a-year booster shot or one and done. He says ongoing research will answer that question sometime by next year, when he anticipates the booster shot will be ready for FDA approval.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, I hope we’ll get there soon. The first generation vaccines are a fantastic beginning but I don’t think the story is complete at this point,” he said.