Omicron vaccine to be ready in March, says Pfizer CEO

USA – Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla has said that the company expects a Covid-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant to be ready in March.

Albert Bourla told CNBC that the company is already producing doses due to government interest, as authorities deal with massive Covid-19 infection counts, including a large number of “breakthrough” Omicron cases in vaccinated populations.

This vaccine will be ready in March,” Bourla told the network. According to Bourla, the vaccine will also target the other circulating variants.

He stated that it is still unclear whether an omicron vaccine is required or how it will be used, but Pfizer will have some doses ready because some countries want it as soon as possible.

“The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalizations and the severe disease — it is reasonable right now, with the current vaccines as long as you are having let’s say the third dose,” Bourla said.

A vaccine targeting the Omicron variant, on the other hand, would protect against outbreaks of a strain that has proven highly contagious but has also resulted in many mild or asymptomatic cases.

According to a study conducted by the United Kingdom Health Security Agency, real-world data from the United Kingdom show that Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are only about 10% effective at preventing symptomatic infection from omicron 20 weeks after the second dose.

The original two doses, however, continue to provide adequate protection against severe illness, according to the study.

According to the study, booster shots are up to 75% effective at preventing symptomatic infection.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC in a separate interview that the company is working on an omicron-targeting booster for this fall that will enter clinical trials soon.

Bancel stated that government demand is high as they prepare for regular vaccination against the virus.

The highly contagious Omicron variant has caused an outbreak of Covid-19 all over the world.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States and the United Kingdom have had the highest number of new cases of the virus in the world over the past month.

According to Bourla, it is unclear whether a fourth dose is required. He stated that Pfizer will conduct tests to determine whether another dose is required.

People over the age of 60, people with compromised immune systems, and health-care workers in Israel now have access to a fourth dose of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

A week after receiving the shot, Israel discovered that a fourth dose of the vaccine increases antibodies that protect against the virus fivefold.

Pfizer’s Bourla said at the JP Morgan Chase health conference that the company expects to make 120 million courses of its antiviral COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid — the equivalent of 3.6 billion tablets — in 2022.

Pfizer intends to gradually increase production this year, producing up to 7 million courses of Paxlovid by April and a total of 30 million by June.

The remaining 90 million will be produced over the next few months, according to Bourla. A single treatment consists of three tablets taken twice a day for five days — a total of 30 pills.

The FDA last month also authorized molnupiravir, an antiviral pill produced by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, to treat some high-risk adults with the disease.

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