Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that people would likely need a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine within 12 months after being fully vaccinated.
During an event with CVS Health, which was recorded April 1 but released on Thursday, Bourla said it's likely possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually, CNBC reported.
“A likely scenario is that there will likely be a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months," Bourla said. "And then from there, there will be annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed."
Bourla said during the event that COVID-19 variants would "play a key role" in determining what vaccinations will be needed in the future.
Bourla added that the nation's primary focus at the moment should be vaccinating the population now to prevent the virus's spread.
It's still unknown how long the vaccines would protect someone once they've been fully vaccinated.
Pfizer recently announced an analysis that showed around a 91 percent efficacy seven days through up to six months after the second dose.
In February, the company started a study to evaluate a third dose of the vaccine and variants. It anticipates initial data from the booster in the first half of this year.
The company said it’s taking next steps because it needs to proactively address it.
Moderna also said new data shows antibody persistence through 6 months following a second dose. It and the NIH are also looking at booster vaccines and variants.
During a Congressional subcommittee hearing Thursday, Dr. David Kessler, the White House’s chief scientific officer of the COVID-19 response, told lawmakers boosters should be expected, noting they don’t know everything at the moment, though.
“I think that for planning purposes and planning purposes only because there’s no decision, I think we should expect that we may have to boost. And probably have to boost, again no decision, but the current thinking is that certainly, those that are more vulnerable may have to go first, but I think you have with many vaccines we understand that at a certain point in time we need to boost whether that’s 9 months, 12 months, we are preparing for that,” he said during the hearing.
USF’s Michael Teng, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine, said it’s a possibility they’ve thought about for a while.
“This is a virus that has never been in people before so we might need in the first several seasons of this virus, if the virus becomes a seasonal virus, then we might need a booster shot every season. We don’t know we will find out for sure because we have clinical trials still going on,” he said.
For some, it comes down to trusting science.
“I’ll get whatever’s needed. I would like to hope the Pfizer vaccine’s strong enough that we won’t need a yearly boost but if I need it I will absolutely take it,” said Mike Hammonds, a participant in Pfizer’s phase 3 trial.
He received his second dose of the vaccine in September and says he’s had no side effects since and is still confident in the vaccine.
“I mean it’s just like any other immunization we get there’s gonna be people that get it and there’s gonna be people that won’t get it luckily and hopefully we do have enough people get the vaccination that we don’t have to continue on living like this,” he said.