Pfizer CEO Albert Burla said Monday that a vaccine targeting the omicron variant of Covid will be ready in March, and the company has already begun producing doses.
“This vaccine will be ready in March,” Burla told CNBC Squawk Box. “We are already starting production of some of these threatened volumes.”
Burla said the vaccine will also target other circulating options. It is still unclear if the omicron vaccine is needed and how it will be used, he said, but Pfizer will have multiple doses ready as some countries want it ready as soon as possible.
“We hope that we will achieve something that will provide much better protection, especially against infections, because protection from hospitalizations and serious illness is reasonable right now, with current vaccines, while you have, say, the third dose,” Burla said. …
Real-world data from the United Kingdom showed that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only about 10% effective in preventing symptomatic omicron infection 20 weeks after the second dose, according to a study by the UK Health Safety Agency. However, the initial two doses still provide good protection against severe illness, research has shown.
Booster shots are up to 75% effective in preventing symptomatic infections, according to research.
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in December that there is no need for an additional vaccine aimed specifically at omicron because current boosters work well against that option.
Moderna CEO Stefan Bansel told CNBC earlier Monday that the company is working on a booster targeting the omicron this fall and will begin clinical trials soon. Bansel said demand from governments is high as they prepare regular vaccinations against the virus.
Burla said it is unclear if a fourth dose is needed. He said Pfizer will conduct experiments to determine if another dose is needed.
Israel has made the fourth dose of Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine available to people over 60, people with weakened immune systems and healthcare professionals.
Israel found that a fourth dose of the vaccine increased the amount of antibodies that protect against the virus fivefold one week after vaccination.