With the increased availability of COVID vaccines, more and more people are hopeful for an end to this pandemic. But it won’t be a one-and-done situation. According to the Pfizer CEO, they’re expecting this to be a new annual shot.
According to a report by CNBC, Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer (producer of the Pfizer/Biotech COVID vaccine) said that people will likely need another booster shot of the vaccines 12 months after they get the initial full vaccination. They also believe in the chance of it being needed every 12 months.
“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. And again, the variants will play a key role.”
This also resonates with a statement by Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, who also claimed that they suspect a need for annual shots, like how we do with the flu.
Pfizer’s data confirms a 91% protection from COVID, and 95% protection from severe effects if infected. But these numbers are only confirmable up to six months. While they are confident in the shot, more data is needed to determine effectiveness past six months.
Why Need an Annual Booster Shot for COVID?
The reason booster shots exist at all is largely due to a disease’s capability to evolve. The flu is a common annual shot because despite society’s efforts, it manages to evolve and become resistant to previous vaccines. Already we’ve seen some COVID variations happening in places like Africa. With this above average rate of evolution, it’s unlikely that we will “wipe out” COVID from the public completely, instead having to regularly develop new booster shots to fight against variations.
The various vaccine producers are fully aware of this, and are working on combating it. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC that they’re hoping to have a booster shot for their vaccine available by Fall of this year.
If they want people to be on board with this, they’re going to need to keep making it free. Right now, anyone, insurance or not, can get a COVID vaccines without having to pay any money. We believe this is a big reason towards folks’ willingness to get the shot. If they want people to continue to get the boosters, they need to retain that level of financial convenience. Otherwise, numerous low-income individuals are going to opt out and we’re going to see a new spike happen when the disease starts to mutate and spread.
Let’s just hope it never comes to that.