U.S. news outlets say the Food and Drug Administration will soon allow Americans to receive a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine different from their original dose.

The federal drug regulator is expected to announce the so-called “mix and match” strategy on Wednesday when it officially authorizes boosters of the two-dose Moderna and single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already approved booster doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine for certain people starting at six months after their last shot, among them people 65 years old and older, nursing home residents, frontline workers such as teachers and health care workers, and people between the ages of 50 and 64 with underlying conditions. 

The decision to authorize boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines follows on the heels of a study released last week by the U.S. National Institutes of Health that revealed people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had a more than 76-fold rise in their antibody levels after receiving a Moderna booster, compared with a 35-fold rise in their antibody levels after receiving a Pfizer booster shot. People who received a second Johnson & Johnson shot saw only a fourfold rise in their antibody levels. 

The results of the NIH study were presented to an FDA advisory committee that met last Friday to discuss approval of the Johnson & Johnson booster shot. 

US football coach fired for noncompliance

In the northwestern United States, Nick Rolovich, the head coach of the Washington State Cougars football team, was fired Monday for refusing to comply with a mandate for all state government employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption from Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate for all state employees to be vaccinated by the Monday deadline.

The 42-year-old Rolovich was in the second year of a five-year contract that paid him $3.2 million a year, making him Washington state’s highest-paid government employee .Four of Rolovich’s assistant coaches were also fired Monday for refusing to be inoculated.

“This is a disheartening day for our football program,” Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team.” 

Rolovich is the first head coach of a major college football program to lose his job over a refusal to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

South Africa turns down Sputnik V vaccine

In other COVID-19 vaccine developments Monday, South Africa’s drug regulatory agency said it would not approve the Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use due to concerns it could increase the risk of HIV infection among men. 

The South African Health Product Regulatory Authority cited previous studies that vaccines such as Sputnik V using a modified form of adenovirus — defined by the CDC as common viruses that cause a range of illnesses such as fever, sore throat, bronchitis and pneumonia — could increase such a risk.

South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV-infected patients. 

Russia’s Gamaleya Center, which developed the Sputnik V vaccine, issued a statement calling the concerns laid out by the SAHPRA “completely unfounded.”

South Africa currently utilizes the two-dose Pfizer and one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. 

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