People Might Need a 3rd COVID-19 Vaccine Booster, says Pfizer CEO

People are “likely” to need a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine within 12 months of getting the first two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during a recent interview.

The third booster jab could be necessary “somewhere between six and 12 months” after the second one and possibly even annually, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC television during a recording broadcast on 15 April.

“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. And again, the variants will play a key role,” he told a CNBC reporter.

Bourla said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has proved to provide immunity for six months.

Variants “will play a key role” in how regularly people will need to have their COVID immunity topped up as time goes on – in a similar way to how flu vaccines are updated and re-administered year on year.

“But protection goes down by time. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla said. 

Earlier this month, Pfizer said its COVID-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose.

Beyond the study of 12,000 vaccinated people, exactly how long immunity lasts with two doses “remains to be seen”, Bourla said. Researchers say more data is needed to determine whether protection lasts after six months. 

In February, Pfizer and BioNTech said they were testing a third booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the virus.

Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s Minister for Business & Industry and COVID Vaccine Deployment, has said that his country’s top four priority groups could be invited for a third booster dose as soon as September.

The over-80s, clinically extremely vulnerable, health and social care staff and care home workers were the first to be vaccinated against coronavirus in December and the first weeks of this year.

They were offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, but Zahawi says he expects eight different vaccines to be available later in the year.

In the US, health officials are already preparing for booster doses to be issued between nine and 12 months after people are fully vaccinated.

This would mean a third dose for people who have received the Pfizer or Moderna jabs and a second dose for the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine. 

Bourla’s comments come after Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC in February that people may need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 annually.








Image Credits: Flickr – World Economic Forum.

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