The pharmaceutical giant's CEO announced that they are submitting data to the FDA on the need for a fourth dose of its COVID vaccine.
Another booster or a fourth dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine is necessary to ensure appropriate immunity against the coronavirus, the pharmaceutical giant's CEO announced on Sunday. Pfizer's COVID vaccine, developed alongside Germany's BioNTech, has been effective in protecting against severe COVID, but the company now believes that a fourth booster shot is necessary to maintain ample immunity from the coronavirus.
"The way that we have seen, it is necessary, a fourth booster right now," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during an interview with "Face the Nation" on Sunday, as reported by CBS News. "The protection that you are getting from the third, it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths. It's not that good against infections."
Pfizer spokesperson Steven Danehy explained further that Bourla was referring to "early and preliminary" data from a study that was announced in January that analyzes a fourth dose of the FDA-authorized formulation and another formulation designed to combat COVID's Omicron variant.
"We will continue to collect and assess all available data and remain in open dialogue with regulators and health authorities to help inform a COVID-19 vaccine strategy as the virus evolves," Danehy confirmed in a statement. Meanwhile, a White House spokesperson referred inquiries about Pfizer's submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but a spokesperson for the agency declined to comment.
In a recent interview with CNBC, Bourla described Pfizer's latest submission as a "significant package of data about the need for a fourth dose." This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a cohort study in February that found vaccine efficacy against COVID emergency care visits had gone down to 66% among those who received a third dose of one of the two mRNA vaccines four to five months ago. These vaccines was 78% effective against COVID hospitalizations in this group.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month that the possibility of another booster or fourth COVID vaccine shot was being "very carefully monitored" by U.S. health authorities, Axios reported. Meanwhile, Bourla pitched the idea of having a yearly COVID vaccine, much like the flu shot, citing COVID variants as a reason for it.
"Variants are coming...but also we know that the duration of the protection doesn't last very long," Bourla explained. "So what we are trying to do, and we're working very diligently right now, it is to make not only a vaccine that will protect against all variants, including Omicron, but also something that can protect for at least a year."
Bourla said that Pfizer is also looking to create a new COVID vaccine that would not only "protect against all variants" but also "protect for at least a year." This is the same proposal presented by Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA's top vaccines official, who in January hinted at "essentially a yearly COVID-19 booster."