Australia

Pfizer chief: Once-a-year booster jabs are our goal

Booster shots every few months to combat COVID are “not a good scenario”, according to Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla, who says an annual vaccine now in development makes far more sense.

In an interview with Israel’s N12 News, Bourla was asked if he sees booster shots becoming the norm, with additional jabs administered every four to five months on a regular basis.

“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,” Bourla said.

“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.

“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.”

A preliminary study published by Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre on Monday found that a fourth shot increases antibodies to even higher levels than the third but even that was likely not enough to fend off Omicron.

Nonetheless, a second booster – the fourth jab overall – was still advised for risk groups, Sheba said.

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is shown to be effective against severe disease and death caused by the heavily mutated Omicron variant but less effective in preventing transmission.

With cases soaring, Australia has expanded COVID-19 vaccine booster programs and/or shortened the gap between shots as governments scramble to stem the tide of infections – a policy being echoed across the globe.

Bourla has said Pfizer could be ready to file for approval for a redesigned vaccine to fight Omicron, with mass production possible as soon as March.

Citing three studies, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday that a third dose of an mRNA vaccine provides 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation.

-AAP




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