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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said that vaccinated individuals will “likely” need a booster shot of the vaccine within 12 months of receiving the second dose.
His comments on the subject, which were released on Thursday, were previously recorded on 1 April.
“A likely scenario is there will be likely a need for a third dose somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there would be an annual revaccination,” he said.
This annual vaccination could look similar to the flu vaccine people receive each year.
“There are vaccines that are like polio that one dose is enough … and there are vaccines like the flu that you need every year,” Mr Bourla said. “The Covid virus looks more like the influenza virus than the polio virus.”
Mr Bourla said that Covid-19 variants would likely factor into whether the American public would need an annual vaccine or booster shot.
“But all of that needs to be confirmed and again the variants will play a key role,” he said. “It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus because they are vaccinated with high-efficacy vaccines.”
One reason why a booster shot could be a possibility for vaccinated individuals is because of the new Covid-19 variants that have formed in recent months. Thus far, the vaccines have proven to be effective against the variants. But the Brazil variant, known as the Brazillian P1, appears to be more resistant against the available vaccines.
Pfizer was proven to be 95 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 illness in individuals, according to its clinical trials. The vaccine was also 90 per cent effective in preventing people from contracting the novel virus two weeks after they were fully vaccinated.
Moderna, which uses a similar messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to Pfizer that teaches body cells how to produce the coronavirus’s spike protein, was proven to be 94 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 illness in individuals.
Both vaccines were shown to be highly effective more than six months after the second dose, but research was limited on how long the antibody response would last.
Together, Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines make up a vast majority of shots administered in the US to date, with the federal government purchasing a total of 600 million doses, enough for 300 million Americans, from the two companies to be available by the end of July.
Mr Bourla’s statement on the public potentially needing a booster shot was not a surprise. Health officials have previously raised this possibility as more and more Americans receive a vaccine.
David Kessler, the White House’s chief science officer, told lawmakers during a hearing on Thursday that Americans “should expect” to receive a booster shot in the future.
Pfizer announced earlier this year that it was testing the impact of a third dose of its vaccine against the Covid-19 variants circulating worldwide. Other vaccine companies were also launching similar clinical trials.
Nearly 103 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered to the American public to date, according to data from the CDC. In total, more than 78 million Americans, or 23.6 per cent of the population, was fully vaccinated against the novel virus.