The 2 shot mRNA vaccine has a high efficacy against COVID-19, but long term data for its protection is not there yet, and emerging variants may present a challenge.
On Thursday, Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, made an announcement stating that individuals who received the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine will most likely need an additional dose within 12 months of being fully vaccinated.
Additionally, because protection from the shot against the virus over the long term is still unknown, the potential for annual vaccinations is still a possibility.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla said. He went on to say that the vaccines will be an important tool in the fight against highly contagious variants, including the UK and South African strains.
Earlier on Thursday, David Kessler, the chief science officer of President Biden’s COVID-19 response team, said that everyone should expect to receive a booster dose at some point to protect against known and future variants.
While the vaccines are highly efficacious and protective against the virus, novel strains are likely to emerge that will present a challenge.
“We are studying the durability of the antibody response,” Kessler said. “It seems strong but there is some waning of that. So, I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”
Last month, a new vaccine being produced by Moderna that is designed to protect the South African variant begun being tested by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Moderna announced that the company has hopes that a booster will be available at some point in the coming fall.