Due to omicron, the fourth Covid vaccination dose may be required sooner than expected, according to Pfizer's CEO.
- "We'll evaluate if the omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long after we get real-world data," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said.
- "As for the second point," Bourla continued, "I think we'll need a fourth dose."
- Pfizer's CEO had expected a fourth dose 12 months after the third, but he told CNBC that it might be needed faster.
After preliminary research shows the new omicron variant can impair protective antibodies generated by the vaccine Pfizer developed with BioNTech, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated Wednesday that people may require a fourth Covid-19 dose sooner than expected.
The results of an initial lab trial provided by Pfizer and BioNTech on Wednesday morning showed that a third dose is successful in combating the omicron variety, while the previous two-dose vaccine series' capacity to defend against the new strain declined dramatically. The two-dose sequence, however, is likely to provide protection against becoming extremely ill from omicron, the companies said.
A preliminary investigation by the company was based on a synthetic, lab-created clone of the variation, according to Bourla, and further data from tests against the real virus is needed. The real-world results will be more accurate, according to the Pfizer CEO, and will be available in the following two weeks.
"We'll know if the omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long once we have real-world data." And on the second issue, I believe we'll require a fourth dose," Bourla explained. ”
Bourla predicted that 12 months following the third dose, a fourth shot would be required. "With omicron, we'll have to wait and watch because we don't know much." "We might need it sooner," he speculated.
The most important thing right now, according to the Pfizer CEO, is to push out third doses for the winter. Public health officials are worried about a spike in Covid infections as people gather more indoors to escape the cold.
"I believe a third dose will provide extremely good protection," Bourla said. Treatments like Pfizer's Paxlovid, an oral antiviral pill, will help reduce hospitalizations and control Covid during the winter, he added.
Pfizer applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval of the medication last month. Pfizer will receive full results from clinical studies in days, according to Bourla, who expects the pill to show an 89 percent reduction in hospitalisation and mortality, as it did in interim data last month.
Pfizer's CEO stated that the company has already dispatched pills to the United States and that the medicine might be available this month if the FDA approves it for emergency use. Last month, President Joe Biden said that the US had purchased 10 million courses, with delivery slated to begin by the end of the year.
Bourla said he’s confident that the Pfizer pill will continue to be effective against omicron because it targets a different part of the virus, a replication enzyme that is less prone to changes. The vaccinations target the virus's spike protein, which allows it to infiltrate human cells. The spike protein has mutated repeatedly over the course of the pandemic.
If necessary, Pfizer and BioNTech can produce a vaccine that precisely targets omicron by March 2022, according to Bourla. He said he anticipates new variants to emerge in the future, and the company is monitoring to see if vaccine adjustments are needed.