As people around the world line up to get their third-dose “booster” shot of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 due to waning protection from the first round, the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, has already said that people are going to need a fourth booster sooner than expected.
This week, the exec told CNBC that Pfizer is carrying out studies on the Omicron variant. Although he said the results may show that a third shot could fight the variant, his company is already preparing for a fourth jab that should give the Big Pharma firm’s stock price a nice boost.
Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box, he said that while he had originally thought a fourth shot would be needed 12 months after people get their third dose, the timeline might now need to be moved up in light of Omicron: “When we see real-world data, will determine if the omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long.”
“And the second point, I think we will need a fourth dose,” Bourla said.
He added that the company can develop a vaccine specifically targeting Omicron by March if it proves necessary. He also said that new variants are likely to emerge in the future and they are constantly monitoring the situation to see whether the vaccine needs adjustments to keep up.
Some experts are skeptical of the true need for additional shots, particularly given the financial windfall that companies like Pfizer stand to gain by selling more shots. For some reason, however, the Biden administration is happy to help them in their quest to sell more vaccines.
The company has said that two doses of its vaccine “may not be sufficient to protect against infection with the omicron variant,” although they claim it may offer some protection against severe disease.
The World Health Organization said that booster shots are not the solution to the Omicron variant; instead, they believe the focus should be on getting more people their first shots.
It is not surprising that so many people are viewing Pfizer’s push for additional vaccines due to Omicron as a money grab. Most of us expected they would be pushing a fourth jab on the masses at some point, and now they appear emboldened by the new variant to see just how far they can take this. However, even the vaccine enthusiasts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit that cases of Omicron have been mild so far, and no one has died from it yet.
The symptoms have mostly been a cough, fatigue and congestion, and just one person has been hospitalized with it. Among those who have been infected with the variant, more than three fourths were vaccinated, and a third of them had also received a booster.
Fourth doses already being administered to people in some parts of the world
Health officials in some parts of the world have already announced fourth doses for some populations. In British Columbia, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that certain people who have received a three-dose primary vaccine series will be eligible for a booster six months after their third dose.
In the UK, Jersey officials said that anyone with immune system problems will be contacted about getting their fourth vaccine, while the booster dose interval for islanders 40 and over who are getting a third dose dropped from six months to three.
Greece’s National Vaccination Committee is set to decide whether to offer immune-compromised citizens a fourth dose as soon as one month after their third dose, and the Israeli health minister has said that a fourth vaccine is a possibility for all Israelis.
Sources for this article include: