(Adds FDA statement on clearing some Moderna doses from Catalent facility in paragraphs 3 & 4)
Sept 20 (Reuters) – The United States government has sent out over 25 million of the updated COVID-19 booster shots, mostly from Pfizer/BioNTech, as production of the Moderna shot continues to ramp up, a federal health agency said on Tuesday.
Some U.S. pharmacies like CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance also reported on Tuesday that government supply of Moderna’s updated shot remains limited, causing appointments for the product to vary across the country.
In a statement late on Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it authorized ten batches of Moderna’s updated booster shots made at a Catalent facility in Indiana after it deemed them safe to use. It did not provide details on the number of doses cleared.
The Catalent facility is currently not authorized by the FDA to manufacture Moderna’s updated booster shots and the regulator said the company requested it to authorize these batches in light of the current supply issues.
Both CVS and Walgreens said they are working with the government to acquire more Moderna doses and have not seen any supply issues for the Pfizer/BioNTech booster.
In August, the FDA authorized Pfizer and Moderna’s updated booster shots that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, as the country prepares for a broad fall revaccination campaign.
According to the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), retail pharmacies will be receiving millions more doses of Moderna this week and that production is ramping up.
“We anticipate supply will continue to increase in the coming weeks,” an ASPR spokesperson told Reuters.
Moderna said it is working closely with the U.S. government to deliver significant amounts of the updated, bivalent booster doses and anticipates that these availability constraints will be resolved in the coming days. It said it expects to ship the 70 million doses by the end of the year, as promised in its contract.
The U.S. has ordered more than 170 million updated vaccine booster shots for this fall when all individuals aged 12 and over who have already received the initial doses of the vaccine are being encouraged to receive a booster shot. (Reporting by Mrinalika Roy, Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Michael Erman in New York; Editing by Caroline Humer and Shailesh Kuber)