ORLANDO, Fla. – Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC Thursday people will most “likely” need another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine within a year of their full vaccination.
The pharmaceutical company, as well as Moderna, have been studying the possibility of requiring a third dose since earlier this year.
The ongoing studies are also looking at how effective a booster will be on immunity against COVID-19 caused by current and possibly new variants.
A study launched in February is using participants from the first Pfizer Phase 1 U.S. study who will be offered a third shot of the current vaccine 6 to 12 months after receiving their second shot regimen. The study is part of the clinical development strategy to determine the effectiveness of a third dose against evolving variants, according to Pfizer and BioNTech.
Bourla also recently told CNBC people will likely need to get vaccinated annually.
Viruses constantly evolve, and the world is in a race to vaccinate millions and tamp down the coronavirus before even more mutants emerge. More than 119 million Americans have had at least one vaccine dose, and 22% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of the rest of the world is far behind that pace.
All the major vaccine makers are tweaking their recipes in case an update against the so-called B.1.351 virus is needed. Now experimental doses from Moderna and Pfizer are being put to the test.
In suburban Atlanta, Emory University asked people who received Moderna’s original vaccine a year ago in a first-stage study to also help test the updated shot.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, isn’t just testing Moderna’s experimental variant vaccine as a third-shot immune booster. Researchers at Emory and three other medical centers also are enrolling volunteers who haven’t yet received any kind of COVID-19 vaccination.
They want to know: Could people be vaccinated just with two doses of the variant vaccine and not the original? Or one dose of each kind? Or even get the original and the variant dose combined into the same injection?