Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a video published on Thursday that he believed a third dose of the company’s coronavirus vaccine would be necessary within 12 months of getting the first two doses.
Speaking at a CVS Health online event, Bourla said current research indicates the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 has similar characteristics to that of influenza viruses, which will make periodic inoculation necessary to prevent outbreaks.
Many experts, including Bourla, suspect coronavirus vaccines will become a yearly routine, similar to flu shots.
Bourla said, “Protection goes down by time, but still [after] six months it is extremely, extremely high.”
However, “if you ask me I think there will be a need… for revaccinations.”
“A likely scenario is that there will likely be a need for a third dose somewhere between 6-12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed.”
Bourla added that it was crucial to get the global population vaccinated as soon as possible, in order to lower the likelihood of the appearance of variants that can bypass existing vaccines.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus… Because the pool of people is what defines how many replications the virus will do and defines… how many variants will appear,” Bourla told CNBC’s Bertha Coombs on April 1.
Coronavirus infections probably won’t ever disappear, so vaccine manufacturers have been hard at work developing boosters to combat new variants or provide protection once immunity to existing shots wears out.
The BioNTech-Pfizer shot is based on novel mRNA technology and was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the West late last year.
Both the United States and the European Union have approved its use for people aged 16 and above.
Since then, it has been used in millions of adults in more than 65 countries.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are developing and testing booster shots to protect against B.1.351.
“I hope this summer to get the vaccine authorized for a boost so that we can help people getting boosted before the fall, so that we all have a normal fall and not a fall and winter like we just saw in the last six months,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel recently told Insider.