People may need to get COVID-19 vaccine annually: Pfizer CEO

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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The chief executive officer of American pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, Albert Bourla, said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually.

His comments, which were taped on 1st April, were made public only on 15th April. Mr. Bourla said that people will “likely” need a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated.

Albert Bourla Image
Albert Bourla
CEO – Pfizer

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between 6 and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”

The comment comes after America’s Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said in February that people may need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots.

Effectiveness of the vaccine shots

Researchers still don’t know how long protection against the virus lasts once someone has been fully vaccinated.

Pfizer said earlier this month that its COVID-19 vaccine was more than 91 percent effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95 percent effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose. Pfizer’s data was based on more than 12,000 vaccinated participants. However, researchers say more data is still needed to determine whether protection lasts after six months.

The vaccine from Moderna, another American drugmaker which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at six months.

Need for booster shots

The chief COVID-19 response science officer of the US government, David Kessler, recently said that people should expect to receive booster shots to protect against coronavirus variants. Mr. Kessler told US lawmakers that currently authorized vaccines are highly protective but noted new variants could “challenge” the effectiveness of the shots.

In February, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said they were testing a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the virus. Meanwhile, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel recently said that the company hopes to have a booster shot for its two-dose vaccine available in mid-2021.

Related: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine gives 100% protection for teens; Study shows