(KRON) – Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that people will “likely” need a booster shot 12 months after getting fully vaccinated, and an annual shot might also be necessary in an interview with CNBC.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla said to CNBC.
Data from the pharmaceutical company suggests that their vaccine is highly effective six months after the second dose, with more data needed to determine its effectiveness past that.
After the second dose, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective in preventing the COVID-19 illness in people who have previously not been infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In comparison, the CDC says the annual flu shot reduces flu illnesses by between 40% and 60%.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing updates to their shots in preparation for any mutations that might outsmart the current vaccines.
“We need to be ahead of the virus,” said Dr. Nadine Rouphael of Emory University, who is helping to lead a study of Moderna’s tweaked candidate. “We know what it’s like when we’re behind.”
Moderna’s updated shot could come as early as this fall according to its CEO Stephane Bancel.
“I anticipate in the next year or so, we’re going to see a lot of variants. But as more and more people get vaccinated or naturally infected, the pace of the variant is going to slow down and the virus is going to stabilize like you see with flu,” Bancel said to CNBC.
Already an easier-to-spread version found in Britain just months ago has become the most common variant now circulating in the United States, one that’s fortunately vaccine-preventable.
But globally, there’s concern that first-generation vaccines may offer less protection against a different variant that first emerged in South Africa.
All the major vaccine makers are tweaking their recipes in case an update against that so-called B.1.351 virus is needed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.