Third COVID Shot 'Likely' Needed Within 12 Months, Pfizer CEO Says

The mutant strains will play a key role.
Derya Ozdemir

A single course of a vaccine not being sufficient to provide full protection against the coronavirus and its variants in the long term has been a topic of discussion among scientists, and as vaccine rollouts continue, booster shots are being discussed more than ever. 

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Thursday that people will "likely" need the 3rd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within six to 12 months of vaccination, according to an interview with CNBC.

Annual vaccinations?

This is especially important since science is yet to know how long vaccines will provide protection against the virus. Pfizer/BioNTech previously published a study that was based on more than 12,000 vaccinated participants earlier this month. According to the updated data, the vaccine is more than 91 percent effective and more than 95 percent effective against severe cases of COVID-19 up to six months after the second jab; however, more research, time, and data are needed to see whether the protection it provides lasts beyond six months.

For vaccines like polio, one dose is enough; however, for vaccines like flu, one needs to be vaccinated every year. According to Bourla, "The Covid virus looks more like the influenza virus than the polio virus.

Pfizer CEO also stated that annual vaccinations may be required. "We need to see what would be the sequence, and for how often we need to do that, that remains to be seen," Bourla said. "A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed." 

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The interview comes following the Biden administration’s coronavirus response chief science officer, David Kessler, saying Americans should expect to receive booster shots earlier Thursday and Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky saying in February that people may need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 annually.

Variants will play an important role in the vaccination process and deciding on the revaccination timelines. Back in February, Pfizer/BioNTech announced they are working on a third dose of their vaccine to better combat the variants. Moderna is also working on a booster for its vaccine.

On a side note, the F.D.A has also commented on the booster subject, saying in February that vaccine developers won't need to go through lengthy trials for the vaccines that have been adapted to protect against variants.   

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