It remains unclear how long vaccine immunity from the coronavirus lasts but Pfizer expects that people may need to get a third shot within a year of getting fully vaccinated, CNBC reports.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that people will “likely” need to be vaccinated every year like the flu shot.
“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role,” Bourla said.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” he added.
Pfizer said earlier this month its vaccine is more than 91% effective against infection and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose, as is the case with the Moderna vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson CEO agrees:
Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky made a similar prediction to CNBC earlier this year, predicting that people will have to be vaccinated annually.
“Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate,” he said in February. “Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”
Unclear how long immunity lasts:
Of course, public health predictions about the coronavirus have been wrong before and it remains unclear how long immunity will last.
“We don’t know everything at this moment,” David Kessler, the chief science officer in the Biden administration’s coronavirus response, testified to lawmakers this week, noting that new variants could pose a “challenge.”
“We are studying the durability of the antibody response,” he said. “It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge ... they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”