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Pfizer CEO says fourth vaccine dose will be needed

Pfizer CEO says fourth vaccine dose will be needed
CDC only authorised third jab for most adults in the fall

The head of Pfizer came out in support of a second booster shot against Covid-19 over the weekend, and said that his company would be pushing federal health experts to advise that Americans eligible to receive vaccinations should receive their fourth jab against the virus.

The remarks from Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, came on CBS’s Face the Nation as he discussed the potential for a vacina that provides broader and longer-term effective protection.

Mr Bourla told CBS’s Margaret Brennan that “it is necessary, a fourth booster right now”, and added that data from the third jab indicated that the booster shot was effective at preventing severe symptoms but less effective at preventing infections overall and also appeared to provide only temporary protection.

“The protection that you are getting from the third, it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths," ele disse. Mr Bourla then added of the third shot: “It’s not that good against infections, [e] doesn’t last very long.”

The continued inability of the vaccines to prevent the spread of mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 cases continues to frustrate many across the US who have chafed at restrictions on public life continuing two years after the virus first reached US shores.

Mr Bourla added in his interview that he hoped a more effective vaccine that provided longer protection would alleviate some persisting concerns about returning to “normalcy”.

“[C]hat we are trying to do, and we are working very diligently right now, it is to make not only a vaccine that will protect against all variants, including Omicron, but also something that can protect for at least a year. And if we be able to achieve that, then I think it is very easy to follow and remember so that we can go back to really the way used to live,” said Mr Bourla.

The Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration have yet to authorise a fourth dose of Pfizer or any other Covid-19 vaccine; the federal government only expanded eligibility for the third jab to the general adult population in November and millions of Americans have yet to receive it.

“Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death,” said the FDA’s acting chief in November when announcing the expanded eligibility.

US President Joe Biden has remained one of the biggest public supporters of the vaccines and frequently urges Americans specifically to receive their booster shots in public remarks about the pandemic.

Mr Biden’s poll numbers on the issue of Covid-19, which was an advantage for the president in his 2020 bid for office, have slipped in recent months as the virus continues to spread in the US and many grow increasingly frustrated by the pandemic.

A study published in the Lancet scientific journal late last year measured the short-term effectiveness of the boosters, and found that those who received a Pfizer booster after two previous vaccination doses had antibody levels eight times higher than a control group. Other jabs such as Moderna were judged to provide even greater protection.