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Pfizer CEO: Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within 1 year

The Hill logo The Hill 4/15/2021 Justine Coleman
a close up of a bottle: Pfizer CEO: Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within 1 year © Getty Images Pfizer CEO: Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within 1 year

Pfizer's CEO said Thursday that COVID-19 vaccine recipients will "likely" need a third dose between six to 12 months after they're fully vaccinated and suggested vaccinations for coronavirus could be needed every year.

Albert Bourla told CNBC's Bertha Coombs at a CVS Health event that he predicts based on current data a "likely scenario" will involve the COVID-19 vaccine being administered to patients annually.

Bourla said it "remains to be seen" how often any potential additional vaccines would be provided.

"A likely scenario is there will be likely a need for a third dose somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there there would be an annual revaccination," he said at the event.

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"But all of that needs to be confirmed and again the variants will play a key role," he continued. "It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus because they are vaccinated with high-efficacy vaccines."

Earlier this month, Pfizer, along with German partner BioNTech, reported their vaccine remained 91 percent effective at least six months after the second dose.

Bourla said the six months of data shows "extremely, extremely high" protection from COVID-19, noting that protection still "goes down by time."

Health officials have previously raised the possibility that the public may need booster COVID-19 shots.

Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Sunday that people "very well may need" a booster vaccine to protect themselves from the virus.

David Kessler, the White House's chief science officer, told lawmakers during a hearing on Thursday that people "should expect" to get booster shots, noting that officials "don't know everything at this moment."

Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this year they were testing a third dose of their vaccine against the COVID-19 variants that have spread worldwide.

Peter Marks, the director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said during an American Medical Association webinar that officials think protection is "probably going to last at least nine months."

"It is possible, we don't know for sure, that somewhere at nine months, a year, we may need to have boosters, but we'll get a better sense of that, probably with each month we'll get more certainty about when that might be necessary," he added.

Almost 103 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered in the U.S. and more than 87 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Updated 2:33 p.m.

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