After Pfizer BioNTech released initial findings about its vaccine’s perceived protection against COVID-19, CEO Albert Bourla said Wednesday that a fourth shot may eventually be needed to combat the new omicron variant.
Pfizer, the CDC and the Biden administration are encouraging those who received two doses of any mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine to get booster shots in order to protect against omicron, even before final results of clinical trials show how much protection those shots give.
Initial results from Pfizer show that its booster shot is more protective against omicron than the first two doses of the vaccine if those doses were given more than six months earlier.
However, the omicron variant is so new that scientists don’t really know whether it will produce severe enough disease to warrant boosters or vaccines. Early reports are that it is mild, but may be more transmissable than earlier variants.
Early tests show protection
Pfizer also said that the initial two doses of its vaccine still likely protect against serious and severe infection from COVID-19.
The initial tests used a synthetic, lab-created version of the virus, but a full clinical trial will use real virus samples, CNBC reported.
Bourla said a fourth dose may be needed 12 months after the third one, or sooner if omicron is more virulent than expected.
Bourla also said that Pfizer BioNTech could produce a vaccine to more specifically target omicron by March 2022 if one is needed.
Will it ever end?
More new variants of the original virus are anticipated, and may need their own vaccines or boosters, he said.
It’s hard not to be skeptical about boosters every six months to a year when the delta variant has spread despite high levels of vaccination and previous infection.
As of Wednesday, 43 cases of omicron have been detected in 19 states across the U.S. Three-fourths of those cases were in vaccinated people, and all of them have been mild so far.
It doesn’t seem like the vaccines are really doing that much good against omicron so far. It’s easy to see why Pfizer would be pushing them when the company has made billions from the vaccines, but why are officials piling on when they don’t seem to be preventing infections in recent months?