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VERIFY: Are the current COVID-19 boosters the same formulation as the original shots?

All three COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized as boosters. FDA documents show they are the same formulation as the original shots, but still boost delta protection.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People in the U.S. now have access to all three brands of COVID-19 boosters, prompting some to ask questions about what kind of immunity these shots are actually boosting. 

The coronavirus landscape has evolved greatly since the vaccines first started rolling out. Several COVID-19 variants have emerged, with delta attaining, and retaining, its spot as the most dominant one in the U.S.

With research showing delta to be more transmissible than the original "wild-type" COVID-19, WCNC Charlotte viewer Paul B. wrote in to ask whether the new booster shots have been crafted with delta in mind.

The Question

Are the current COVID-19 booster shots specifically formulated to target delta?


  • The Food and Drug Administration
  • Dr. David Priest, infectious disease specialist, Novant Health

The Answer

This is false.

No, the current COVID-19 boosters are not specifically formulated for the delta variant, but they do improve protection against it.

"The 'booster' is the same product that you would've received before. There's no difference in it," Priest said.

FDA documents show Pfizer's and Johnson & Johnson's boosters would be identical to the shots people already received. Moderna's would be the same, too, except it is a half-dose.

Those documents also show, while each brand of booster is not specifically targeted towards delta, all of them spark increases in neutralizing antibodies against the concerning variant.

However, Priest said, people should not be surprised to see other rounds of boosters with different formulations in just a matter of months.

"I would anticipate sometime in early 2022, you may see a booster that's specifically designed for delta or other variants," Priest said, "but that's not what this is. This is a matter of boosting immune response, as was done before."

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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