Pfizer and Moderna Vaccine
Top executives at two of the world's largest Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers disagree about whether a fourth dose is necessary for the majority of the world's population.
In a CBS interview on Sunday, Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said that protection from three shots will wane and that a fourth dose is needed "right now." Then, according to Business Insider, Moderna Inc. President Stephen Hoge said in an interview that a second booster is probably only needed for older people or those who are immunocompromised, with the rest of the public being able to be more selective about receiving the shot.
Both men agreed that the virus is here to stay.
Many countries are grappling with balancing living with Covid-19, dealing with a virus-weary or sometimes vaccine-hesitant public, and trying to thwart surges in severe cases that risk overwhelming health-care resources again. Research suggests booster shots help reduce the consequences of an infection, though some vaccines work better than others in preventing infections caused by the omicron variant.
A fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was insufficient to prevent infection with omicron, though it gave a partial defense against the strain, according to preliminary data from a trial in Israel released in January. The country, along with South Korea, is one of the few to be giving fourth doses and so far only for the most vulnerable.
Vaccine makers also face the likelihood of more variants emerging as the virus mutates.
Bourla said in an interview with Bloomberg News last week that Pfizer will soon submit data to U.S. regulators on the effects of a fourth dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, and he’s optimistic about developing a vaccine that would target omicron along with earlier variants.
Moderna is optimistic that a bivalent booster, which can target both omicron and the original virus strain, could be available this year, according to the Business Insider report.
While Hoge said young, healthy people may opt out of a booster, he intends to get one annually to protect against long-term effects of the virus.
"Is it necessary? I think that’s a strong word. I think it will provide a benefit to anyone who gets it,” he said, referring to boosters. "Whether or not public health continues to recommend it for everybody is a more complicated thing, because not everybody’s wanting to get the first couple ones.”