Another COVID-19 vaccine booster formulation could be needed by next Sept. or Oct., FDA vaccines chief Peter Marks told Stat. SARS-CoV-2 is mutating at a high rate and the duration of protection of vaccines is short. This worries Marks, especially given the declining rate of vaccination with each booster dose. The Stat reporter writes: “With each successive booster that has been approved, the percentage of people who’ve gotten one has dropped. A bivalent booster, which targets both the original strain of SARS-2 and an Omicron variant, has been available since early September. To date only 19.4 million doses have been administered. The public’s Covid fatigue could disincentivize vaccine manufacturers from trying to produce better, longer-lasting vaccines, Marks suggested.”
“Prescription-filling robots” are being used at Walgreens to free up pharmacists’ time for “medical services such as vaccinations, patient outreach and prescribing of some medications,” writes a Wall Street Journal reporter. “Those services are a relatively new and growing revenue stream for drugstores, which are increasingly able to bill insurers for some clinical services.” The article cites a shortfall in pharmacists at a time when they are being called on more often for testing and vaccinations. Walgreens is setting up a network of automated central-fill facilities that will cut pharmacists’ workload by at least 25% and save the company more the $1 billion per year, according to the Journal.