People will “likely” need a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine within twelve months of their first two doses, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said, adding that the vaccine may become an annual booster shot, similar to the yearly recommended flu shot.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” he said during an interview, CNBC reported.
Researchers are still determining how long the vaccine’s protection against the coronavirus lasts. Pfizer and Moderna have both indicated their vaccines provide immunity for at least six months, though it is not yet known how much longer it would last.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has expressed hope the vaccine could last two to three years, but recognized it would be effective for much shorter.
“We know for sure it’s effective for six months and highly likely that it will be effective for considerably longer period of time,” he said.
“The way to get the answer is to just follow people closely enough to determine when that level of efficacy or protection diminishes, both with regard to the level of the antibodies as well as clinical data with regard to breakthrough infections … if it turns out [to last] a year or a year and a half, we very well may need to get booster shots to keep up the level of protection,” Fauci said.
Separately, scientist have been testing a third dose to protect against more infectious strains of the virus, such as the South Africa variant.
David Kessler, the former FDA head and Chief Science Officer of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Response, has said “the durability of the antibody response” is being tested.
“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,” he said.