Pfizer expects older adults, those with underlying conditions to be first in line

A healthcare worker hands the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine to Norman G. Einspruch, 88, a cardiology patient, on Dec. 30, 2020, as part of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule for seniors at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, United States.

Marco Bello | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

High-risk groups such as the elderly and those with underlying diseases are expected to be the first to receive booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the company’s chief scientist told investors on Tuesday.

The two-dose vaccine has been shown to be around 95% effective against Covid two weeks after the second dose, although researchers who helped develop the shot now say they gradually wear off over time the strong protection wears off.

Pfizer and BioNTech executives previously told CNBC that people will likely need a booster shot or third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of being fully vaccinated. They also said that people are likely to have to take extra shots every year.

During a call for earnings on Tuesday, Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientist, said it makes sense to start with those who are most vulnerable, like older adults, and with chronic illnesses that make them more prone to serious illness and hospitalization like cardiovascular Illness or asthma.

“We can’t predict what the CDC and FDA will do,” he added.

Dolsten’s comment comes after the company reported that the sale of its Covid-19 vaccine improved its first quarter financial results.

The company now expects total annual sales of the vaccine to be $ 26 billion, compared to its previous forecast of approximately $ 15 billion. Adjusted pre-tax profit in the high sales range of 20% is expected for the vaccine.

“Based on what we’ve seen, we believe continued demand for our Covid-19 vaccine, similar to that of the flu vaccines, is a likely outcome,” said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, to investors on the winning bid.

Should Americans need booster vaccinations, the US government would likely need to reach agreements with drug manufacturers to provide additional doses and make plans to distribute vaccines.

Last month Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to President Joe Biden’s Covid Response Team, said the White House was preparing for the potential need for Covid-19 vaccine booster shots. He said the Biden government was considering the need for extra doses.

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