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Pfizer CEO Predicts Annual COVID Vaccinations Instead of Frequent Boosters

Pfizer CEO Predicts Annual COVID Vaccinations Instead of Frequent Boosters

With Omicron cases still soaring, some countries have expanded COVID-19 vaccine booster programs or shortened the gap between shots as governments scramble to shore up protection. But Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Saturday that in the future, an annual COVID-19 vaccine would be preferable to more frequent booster shots in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Bourla has said Pfizer could be ready to file for approval for a redesigned vaccine to fight Omicron, and mass produce it, as soon as March.

Citing three studies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday that a third dose of an mRNA vaccine is key to fighting Omicron, providing 90% protection against hospitalization. Omicron now accounts for more than 99.5 percent of new infections in the United States, according to estimates from the CDC. Scientists have been working overtime to study this variant. The currently available vaccines have shown to be effective against severe disease and death caused by the heavily-mutated Omicron variant but less effective in preventing transmission.

In an interview with Israel’s N12 News, Bourla was asked whether he sees booster shots being administered every four to five months on a regular basis. “This will not be a good scenario,” Bourla said. “What I’m hoping is that we will have a vaccine that you’ll have to get once a year.” Bourla said that an annual inoculation is a much easier sell, as it’s simple for people to remember. “From a public health perspective, it is an ideal situation. We are looking to see if we can create a vaccine that covers Omicron and doesn’t forget the other variants and that could be a solution,” Bourla said.

A preliminary study published by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center on Monday found that a fourth shot increases antibodies to even higher levels than the third but was likely not enough to fend off Omicron. Nonetheless, a second booster was still advised for risk groups, Sheba said.

 

 

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