Scientist who helped develop Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine agrees third shot is needed as immunity wanes

BioNTech’s chief medical officer told CNBC on Wednesday that people will likely need a third shot of its two-dose Covid-19 vaccine to lower immunity to the virus. This is in line with previous comments from Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Dr. Ozlem Tureci, co-founder and CMO of BioNTech, who developed a Covid vaccine together with Pfizer, also assumes that people need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus every year, for example against seasonal flu. That’s because scientists expect vaccine-induced immunity to the virus to decline over time.

“We see evidence of this in the induced, but also natural, immune response against SARS-COV-2,” she said during an interview with Kelly Evans of CNBC in “The Exchange”. “We see this decrease in immune responses also in people who have just been infected and therefore [it’s] also expected with the vaccines. “

Tureci’s comments come after Bourla said in an interview that aired April 15 that people will likely need a booster shot or third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of being fully vaccinated. He also said that there is a possibility that people will have to take extra shots every year.

Pfizer said earlier this month that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective against the virus and more than 95% effective against serious illness up to six months after the second dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer, has also been shown to remain highly effective after six months.

The researchers say they still don’t know how long protection against the virus will last after six months of full vaccination, although public health officials and health experts believe that protection will wear off after some time.

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.

On Friday 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.

“I can assure you that as we plan, if the President orders the purchase of additional vaccines, as he has, and if we focus on all of the production expansion opportunities that we are talking about, we have a great many such scenarios in mind he said at a press conference at the White House.

Last week, David Kessler, chief science officer for the Biden government at Covid, said Americans should expect to receive booster vaccinations to protect against coronavirus variants. He told US lawmakers that currently approved vaccines offer high levels of protection, but that new variants may “question” the effectiveness of the shots.

“We don’t know everything right now,” he told the House Select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis.

“We are investigating the durability of the antibody response,” he said. “It seems strong, but that’s wearing off a bit, and no doubt the variants are challenging … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, we should expect us to may have to. ” Boost. “

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, told CNBC last week that the company hopes to have a booster shot for its two-dose vaccine in the fall.

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