Fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine is needed, Pfizer CEO says, but the company is working on a shot to handle all variants

PHILADELPHIA — To stave off another wave of Covid-19, people will need a fourth dose of the vaccine, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Sunday.

“Many variants are coming, and Omicron was the first to be able to cleverly bypass the immune protection that we give,” Bourla told CBS’s Face the Nation.

“The protection we get from the third (dose) is good enough — actually pretty good for hospitalizations and fatalities,” Bourla said.

But the protection after three doses is “not that good against infection” and “doesn’t last very long” when dealing with a variant like Omicron.

“Needs a fourth (dose) for now,” Bourla told CBS.

Currently, anyone aged 12 and over who received a second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine at least five months ago can receive a third dose.

Anyone age 18 and older who received two doses of the Moderna vaccine should receive a booster shot six months after the second dose, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And anyone who received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine should get a booster shot after two months, the CDC said.

Some moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals who have received three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines may receive a fourth dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC.

However, it’s not clear if or when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might allow a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for healthy teens and adults.

“We’re submitting this data to the FDA right now, and then we’ll see what the experts would say outside of Pfizer, too,” Bourla said.

Children under the age of 5 could soon be vaccinated

Currently, children aged 5 to 11 are entitled to two pediatric doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine but not yet to a booster dose. Pfizer is now testing a third dose in this age group.

And children under the age of 5 are not yet eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine – although that could change this spring, Bourla said.

Initial study data in children aged 2 to 5 years showed that two doses of a smaller, child-sized vaccine in 2 to 5 year olds did not provide the expected immunity – although it did in babies aged 6 months to 2 years.

Therefore, Pfizer decided to add a third child-sized dose for children under the age of 5 in its ongoing study.

Pfizer should have data on its three-dose vaccine trial for children ages 6 months to 5 years by April, Bourla said.

If approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC, Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years could start as early as May, Bourla said.

A shot at a longer-lasting vaccine against all variants

Pfizer and Moderna have said they are working on a vaccine specifically designed to protect against the Omicron variant. It is not yet clear if one will be needed.

Bourla said Pfizer also hopes to make a vaccine that protects against Omicron and all other variants of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19.

The goal is to “create something that can protect for at least a year,” Bourla told CBS on Sunday.

“And if we can achieve that, then I think it’s very easy to follow it and remember it so we can really go back to the way we used to live,” he said.

The CNN Wire
& 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved. Fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine is needed, Pfizer CEO says, but the company is working on a shot to handle all variants

Dais Johnston

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