Pfizer boss says annual jabs are needed to maintain ‘very high protection’
dr. Albert Bourla, head of Pfizer, said Covid shots may be needed every year
Britons could need a Covid vaccine every year to maintain their ‘very high’ level of protection, Pfizer’s boss said today.
dr. Albert Bourla, head of the UK’s largest vaccine supplier, suggested in an interview that additional injections might be needed for years to come.
He said Pfizer was already working on a modified injection to combat the Omicron variant, which may be better at evading vaccine-induced immunity than other variants.
It comes after the UK bought a further 114 million doses of Covid vaccines that can be processed to fight variants.
The deal suggests ministers are preparing to increase the country’s immunity for at least the next two winters.
dr. Bourla told the BBC: ‘Based on everything I’ve seen so far, I’d say annual vaccinations… will probably be needed to maintain a very robust and very high level of protection.’
Many countries have already launched booster drives to amplify dwindling immunity levels in their populations, after studies found that antibody levels begin to decline about six months after the second dose is administered.
Experts fear that the Omicron variant could make the current kind of jabs less effective because of the many mutations, although this has yet to be proven by clinical trials.
The flu vaccine is already being rolled out every year and adjusted annually to protect against strains that experts fear will circulate. But only about a fifth of Britons get the jab every year.
dr. Bourla said Pfizer expects to have delivered three billion doses of its vaccine by the end of the year, with four billion to be delivered next year. He said it would take about 100 days to prepare a shot against Omicron.
The UK government has bought another 114 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines
Moderna delivers 60 million additional doses and Pfizer/BioNTech 54 million
The additional Moderna and Pfizer shots will be delivered in 2022 and 2023, providing the UK with a steady supply for the next two years.
The health ministry said they have “accelerated” the signing of the new contracts in light of the newly discovered Omicron strain.
Moderna will provide additional 60 million doses and Pfizer/BioNTech 54 million.
This is in addition to the 35 million additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech shots ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.
The new deal – negotiated by the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce – guarantees access to modified vaccines if they are needed to fight Omicron or future variants of concern.
It comes as ministers are today unveiling a major advertising campaign designed to encourage people to come forward for their third chance once notified by the NHS.
Today’s deal comes on the anniversary of UK regulators becoming the first in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine – a move that led to the worldwide rollout of jabs this year. It is the clearest sign yet that ministers plan to implement an annual booster program against Covid for at least the next two years.
Health Minister Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to the Vaccine Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.
“These new deals will future-proof the UK’s vaccination efforts – which have delivered more than 115 million first, second and booster shots in the UK to date – and ensure we can protect even more people in the years to come.
Today’s deal comes on the anniversary of UK regulators becoming the first in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine – a move that led to the worldwide rollout of jabs this year. It is the clearest sign yet that ministers plan to implement an annual booster program against Covid for the next two years
“This is a national mission, and our best weapon for dealing with this virus and its variants is getting punches — so if you’re called to the front, grab the jab and get a boost.”
The government has now gained access to 453.5 million vaccine doses through agreements with six separate developers.
Following the emergence of Omicron, Mr. Javid asked the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) for prompt advice on extending the booster program to all over 18s. The advice was accepted this week, requiring the NHS to offer a booster to all eligible adults in England by the end of January.
Experts say existing vaccines will likely provide at least some protection against new variants, especially serious illness and death.
But leading manufacturers are already tweaking their formulas to make them even more effective against emerging threats.
In the meantime, government advisers hope that increasing antibody levels with the existing jabs will prevent another wave of infections from Omicron
In the meantime, government advisers hope that increasing antibody levels with the existing jabs will prevent another wave of infections from Omicron. To accelerate the vaccination program, approximately 400 military personnel will be deployed to support the deployment, with 1,500 community pharmacy locations, additional hospital hubs and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country.
More than 3,000 stores have already opened in the UK – more than double the number in February.
But global health leaders yesterday cast doubt on the UK’s booster campaign. dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergency program, said he is not aware of any evidence to suggest that providing booster shots to the entire population provides better protection for healthy people.
Asked about the acceleration of the UK’s booster programme, he told a news conference: ‘It is difficult for some countries that have huge amounts of surplus vaccine to decide who to give it to, but that is not the problem many countries around. are confronted. the world that can’t even get basic vaccinations for their most vulnerable…
“There are others here who can answer better than me…but at this point there is no evidence that I know of that would indicate that boosting the entire population will necessarily provide greater protection for otherwise healthy individuals from hospitalization or death.” .’