Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO
- Pfizer CEO said an annual COVID vaccine would be preferable to more frequent booster shots
- He said it would be an 'ideal situation' from a public health perspective
- Pfizer is seeking to develop a vaccine to target omicron variant, he informed
Speaking to Channel 12 News, Bourla said boosters every few months might not be an ideal option from a public health perspective. "This will not be a good scenario. What I'm hoping [is] that we will have a vaccine that you will have to do once a year, he said, according to Reuters.
"Once a year — it is easier to convince people to do it. It is easier for people to remember. So from a public health perspective, it is an ideal situation," he added.
The statement comes in the backdrop of massive booster programmes across several countries as they battle the recent COVID surges, caused possibly by the highly contagious omicron variant.
Bourla said that the US-based pharmaceutical firm was seeking to develop a candidate vaccine that could target omicron and other strains.
"I do not know if we will have to use it, but we are working on the vaccine. We will know if it is the best solution only after we see the data. We know we will be able to mass-produce the vaccine, if necessary, because we are already building the infrastructure for production," he added, according to Reuters.
He also elaborated that this virus had the tendency to develop 'new variants… and to escape immune protection [whether] from vaccines or natural protections."
But among the variants currently detected, only omicron seemed to bypass protection against infection, he said, adding that vaccines still remained effective in preventing hospitalisation and severe disease.
In the interview with Israeli television, Bourla expressed hope that the world would likely return to near-normal conditions within a few months.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has recommended that booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be administered to the elderly and healthcare workers four to six months after the administration of the final dose of the two-dose vaccine regimen.
Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) of the WHO chairman Cravioto went on to say that countries with moderate to high rates of vaccination should prioritise rolling out booster shots to vulnerable sections of the population first before diverting available vaccines for the vaccination of children.
"Increase in booster dose coverage for high risk priority groups will usually yield greater reduction in severe disease and deaths than use of equivalent vaccine to increase primary vaccination coverage," said Cravioto.