Pfizer CEO: Virus will be here for years but this may be last wave with restrictions

Bourla says boosters against coronavirus will remain necessary, but anti-COVID pill 'changes everything'

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla speaks during a ceremony in Thessaloniki, Greece, on October 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos, File)

Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said Monday that although the “most likely scenario” is that coronavirus will be circulating for many years to come, he believes the current wave of infections will be the final one that requires restrictions.

Bourla gave an interview with French outlet BFM TV to mark the announcement of an investment package by the pharma firm in France.

Bourla also touted the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, saying that he believed people will continue to require booster shots.

“It’s important that people receive the three-dose regimen of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, and will likely then require annual boosters although the immunocompromised could require them every four months,” Bourla said. “Children must be vaccinated in order to protect them. Its effectiveness in children is very, very, very good.”

Bourla also said that the company’s anti-COVID pill, Paxlovid, “changes everything,” as a new way to fight serious illness. Pfizer said in December that its Paxlovid pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths in vulnerable people by almost 90 percent.

In the interview, Bourla said the company was making a plan that would involve a 520 million euro ($593.7 million) investment in France over the next five years, which would include a partnership with French company Novasep to develop an anti-COVID pill treatment.

People wearing face mask at a farmers market in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, Jan. 14, 2022 (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

France, like many other countries, is facing record numbers of infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

France’s parliament approved a law on Sunday that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports arenas and other venues, the central measure of government efforts to protect hospitals amid the wave.

The government of French President Emmanuel Macron is hoping the step will be enough to limit the number of patients filling up strained hospitals nationwide without resorting to a new lockdown.

More than 76% of French ICU beds are occupied by virus patients, most of them unvaccinated, and some 200 people with the virus are dying every day. Like many countries, France is in the grip of the Omicron variant, recording more than 2,800 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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