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Pfizer CEO Says An Omicron Vaccine is A ‘Most Likely Scenario’

Pfizer CEO Says An Omicron Vaccine is A ‘Most Likely Scenario’

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday, Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said that moving toward a “redesigned” COVID-19 vaccine that is specifically targeted to combat the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is the “most likely scenario.”

Bourla said Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE are already working on both an Omicron-targeted vaccine variant as well as a shot that would include both the previous vaccine as well as vaccine targeted at the Omicron variant.

COVID virus is surging
[Image via U.S. Secretary of Defense, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
The number of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 has surpassed last winter’s peak, underscoring the severity of the threat the virus continues to pose as the extremely contagious Omicron variant tears through the United States. As of Sunday, 142,388 patients with the virus were hospitalized nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, surpassing the peak of 142,315 reported on January 14th of last year. The seven-day average of daily hospitalizations was 132,086, an increase of 83 percent from two weeks ago.

As cases soared over the past few weeks to an average of nearly 680,000 per day, far higher than last winter’s peak, public health officials have argued that caseloads were of “limited significance” because Omicron is less virulent than earlier variants, and vaccines, and especially boosters, offered protection against severe illness.

Data in some of the first cities hit by Omicron also show deaths spiking sharply — not as fast as case rates, but fast enough to warn of more devastation to come. Current hospitalizations are one of the most reliable measures of the severity of the pandemic over time, because they are not influenced by testing availability or by spikes in minor cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, told ABC News last week that it was “much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations,” which lag cases.

 

Bourla said Pfizer could be ready to file for approval for a redesigned vaccine and start producing it as soon as March, which would mark a full two years since the United States began lockdowns and quarantines.

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