The CEO of Pfizer said it’s “likely” those vaccinated with the company’s COVID-19 inoculation will need a third shot sometime within 12 months after getting the initial two doses and will potentially need a new shot every year thereafter.
Albert Bourla, the head of the pharmaceutical giant, made the comments earlier this month in an interview with CNBC that was made public on Thursday. More than 102 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been distributed in the U.S. thus far, and more than 38 million people have been fully vaccinated.
“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months, and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed,” Bourla said during the event. He added: “There are vaccines like polio where one dose is enough, and there are vaccines like flu that you need every year.”
Bourla added that COVID-19 resembles the flu more than it does a virus like polio.
Reuters reported Thursday that the White House is preparing for Americans to potentially need booster shots nine to 12 months after initial vaccination as scientists continue to study just how long the inoculations provide protection from the coronavirus. Initial data has shown those who receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots have protection for at least six months, but the abbreviated timeline of the vaccine development means researchers still don’t have firm answers when it comes to long-term protection.
Moderna said this week that it too was working on booster shots, which would be ready by the fall.
“We believe that we’re all going to need boosting,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, told CNBC.
A main concern, however, is the spread of COVID-19 variants around the U.S. and abroad. Those strains are now the most common source of infection in the U.S.
Pfizer said in February it would begin testing a booster shot to see if it extends protection, as well as update its original vaccine to better prevent infection from the coronavirus mutations.
“We are taking multiple steps to act decisively and be ready in case a strain becomes resistant to the protection afforded by the vaccine,” Bourla said at the time.
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