Pfizer CEO: 3rd dose of vaccine likely necessary 6-12 months after first 2 doses

After that, predicts Albert Bourla, COVID-19 inoculations will become an annual affair; says bringing down pool of people susceptible to virus crucial to halting pandemic

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 are seen inside a freezer in Cali, Colombia, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on February 19, 2021. (Luis ROBAYO / AFP)
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 are seen inside a freezer in Cali, Colombia, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on February 19, 2021. (Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he believed a third dose of the company’s coronavirus vaccine would be necessary “somewhere between 6-12 months” after getting the first two doses, and annually after that.

Speaking Thursday at a CVS Health online event, Bourla said current research indicates the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 has similar characteristics to that of influenza viruses, which will make periodic inoculation necessary to prevent outbreaks.

“Protection goes down by time,” Bourla said, “but still [after] six months it is extremely, extremely high.”

However, “if you ask me I think there will be a need… for revaccinations.”

“A likely scenario is that there will likely be a need for a third dose somewhere between 6-12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed.”

Bourla added that it was crucial to get the global population vaccinated as soon as possible, in order to lower the likelihood of the appearance of variants that can bypass existing vaccines.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla speaks at a Pfizer manufacturing site, February 19, 2021, in Portage, Michigan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus… Because the pool of people is what defines how many replications the virus will do and defines… how many variants will appear.”

The BioNTech-Pfizer shot is based on novel mRNA technology and was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the West late last year.

Both the United States and the European Union have approved its use for people age 16 and above. Since then, it has been used in millions of adults in more than 65 countries.

A real-world study involving 1.2 million people in Israel found it to be 94% effective.

Bourla was a guest of honor at a government ceremony Wednesday evening marking Israel’s 73rd year of independence.

“Together we are demonstrating that through mass vaccinations we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives,” Bourla said in a video address.

Pfizer and BioNTech are now testing their shots for children. On Wednesday they said the vaccine showed 100 percent efficacy against the coronavirus in 12- to 15-year-olds, as the companies eye approval for adolescents to get the shots before the next school year.

Phase 3 trials carried out on 2,260 adolescents in the United States “demonstrated 100 percent efficacy and robust antibody responses,” the companies said in a statement.

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