In interviews with Israeli television aired Saturday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla predicted the world will return to near-normal conditions within a few months and said the US-based pharmaceutical firm is aiming to produce a once-a-year vaccine covering all coronavirus variants.
“Once a year it is easier to convince people to do it. It is easier for people to remember. From a public health situation, it is an ideal solution. We are looking to see if we can create a vaccine that covers Omicron and doesn’t forget the other variants. And that could be a solution unless something completely different comes out,” he told Channel 12 news.
“The virus will not be eradicated. The virus will be with us for years to come,” Bourla said, adding that “we should be able to come to normal lives… in a few months.” However, he stressed there will continue to be “anomalies, such as Omicron… that we will be able to control.”
He noted Pfizer was working on a vaccine against the Omicron variant, but predicted “there will be more variants.”
“This virus is having the tendency to create new variants… and to escape immune protection [whether] from vaccines or natural protections,” he said.
Unlike other variants to date, Bourla said “only Omicron” was able to bypass the protection against infection provided by vaccines, but stressed inoculation remains effective at preventing hospitalization.
Bourla also told the network that he is regularly targeted by anti-vaccine activists who post false information about him online and send him threatening letters.
Differentiating the “sizable minority” of people who are hesitant to take the vaccine, Bourla said in a separate interview with Channel 13 news that “there is a tiny minority of people who profit from circulating misinformation.
“They know very well everything; they just make it a way of living to circulate this misinformation; they are criminals,” he said.
He said anti-vaxxers falsely claimed his wife had died and that this was because he forced her to vaccinate, causing him to frantically call his kids and wife’s elderly parents to let them know everything was fine.
“But that’s the least of the damage. The biggest thing is because people believe those things… people who die are predominantly not vaccinated,” Bourla said.
“Millions of people have died because of them, this small number of criminals.”
Commenting on his ties with Israeli leaders, he told Channel 12 that he developed “very cordial relations with Bibi [Netanyahu] before and [Prime Minister] Naftali [Bennett] now.” He added that he has remained in contact with Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I know in Israel… you have politics that sometimes divides you. For us, the Jews outside, there is Israel. There is not one party or the other,” he said. “We feel Israel is a safe harbor that we can always go [to]. So for us, Israel is very important.”
He added that whoever leads the Jewish state, “for me it is very important to take the call immediately.”
The interviews came days after the Genesis Foundation announced that Borula was the winner of its annual prize. President Isaac Herzog will present Bourla with the $1 million prize at a ceremony in Israel to be held on June 29.
Last year Bourla was honored at Israel’s official Independence Day ceremony.