Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla addresses a press conference after a visit to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the factory of U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer in Puurs, Belgium April 23, 2021.
John Thys | Pool | Reuters
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said a vaccine that targets the omicron variant of Covid will be ready in March, and the company’s already begun manufacturing the doses.
“This vaccine will be ready in March,” Bourla told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “We (are) already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk.”
Bourla said the vaccine will also target the other variants that are circulating. He said it is still not clear whether or not an omicron vaccine is needed or how it would be used, but Pfizer will have some doses ready because there are governments that want it ready 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.
Real-world data from the United Kingdom has shown that Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are only about 10% effective at preventing symptomatic infection from omicron 20 weeks after the second dose, according to study from the U.K. Health Security Agency. However, the original two doses still provide good protection against severe illness, the study found.
Booster shots are up to 75% effective at preventing symptomatic infection, according to the study.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in December that there is no need for a third shot that specifically targets omicron, because boosters work well against the variant.
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