Pfizer CEO says vaccine-resistant strain of COVID is ‘likely’ to emerge – but claims pharmaceutical giant will develop new shot to tackle it within 95 days
- Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that he believes it is ‘likely’ that a strain of COVID-19 could emerge that is resistant to vaccines
- However, the pharmaceuticals boss claimed that the company would be able to develop a new shot to tackle a vaccine-resistant strain within 95 days
- In July, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned that the coronavirus could mutate and potentially evade vaccines soon
- Pfizer received full approval for its COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that he believes it is ‘likely’ that a strain of COVID-19 could emerge that is resistant to vaccines.
However, the pharmaceuticals boss claimed that the company would be able to develop a new shot to tackle a vaccine-resistant strain within 95 days of its emergence, Fox News reported.
‘Every time that a variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it,’ Bourla said.
‘And they are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine. We haven’t identified any yet, but we believe that it is likely that one day, one of them will emerge.’
He added: ‘We have built a process that within 95 days from the day that we identify a variant as a variant of concern, we will be able to have a vaccine tailor-made against this variant.’
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that he believes it is ‘likely’ that a strain of COVID-19 could emerge that is resistant to vaccines
However, the pharmaceuticals boss claimed that the company would be able to develop a new shot to tackle a vaccine-resistant strain within 95 days of its emergence
In July, Rochelle Walensky – director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – warned that the coronavirus could mutate and potentially evade vaccines soon.
So-called breakthrough infections among people who’ve had Pfizer’s vaccine – as well as shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have occurred – although they rarely result in serious illness.
However, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada told The Telegraph that it was unlikely that the coronavirus could mutate into a vaccine-resistant strain.
‘It would require so many mutations in the spike protein that this virus wouldn’t ‘work’ anymore,’ Angela Rasmussen said.
Other experts recently blasted a ‘fear-mongering’ article warning of a ‘doomsday’ COVID-19 variant which could be worse than Delta.
The doctors emphasized the effectiveness of the jab against the virus and noted that vaccine makers can quickly adjust formulas to make vaccines more effective against variants, Fox News reported.
Their comments come in response to an article in Newsweek Magazine which claimed that the Delta variant has ‘shattered’ optimism that vaccines would help the pandemic wind down.
The Newsweek Magazine article questioned: ‘Is there a Doomsday variant out there that shrugs off vaccines, spreads like wildfire and leaves more of its victims much sicker than anything we’ve yet seen?’
‘The odds are not high that we will see such a triple threat, but experts can’t rule it out,’ the article reads.
A map shows the total number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States
A graph shows the total number if coronavirus infections in the United States per day since the start of the pandemic
A graph shows the total number if coronavirus infections in the United States per day in July and August
A graph shows the total number if coronavirus deaths in the United States per day since the start of the pandemic
A graph shows the average and total number of COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States per week
The Newsweek Magazine article appears to draw a number of conclusions, including that the pandemic will continue to get worse and may stick around ‘forevermore’ – while continuing to mutate.
‘The next variant could be Delta on steroids,’ warned Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist.
Osterholm, who leads the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, added that – because of the Delta variant – ‘the number of intensive-care beds needed could be higher than any time we’ve seen.’
He said that an analysis from his team shows that every American who has not been vaccinated or had the disease yet, about 100 million people, will likely get it in the coming months.
Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist, warned ‘the next variant could be Delta on steroids’
An article in Newsweek Magazine claimed that the Delta variant has ‘shattered’ optimism that vaccines would help the pandemic wind down, while warning of a possible ‘doomsday variant’
Dr. Tracy Beth Høeg outright dismissed the Newsweek Magazine article, and condemned the ‘dangerous and destructive game’ journalists engage in by ‘constantly be speculating about the worst possible scenarios.’
Høeg – an epidemiologist and associate researcher at University of California, Davis – told Fox News that Americans ‘have every reason for optimism.’
‘This line ‘Delta has now shattered that optimism,’ is not appropriate. I would indeed consider this fear mongering,’ Høeg said.
‘Epidemiologists and infectious disease docs should continue to study variants, but it is not necessary (or healthy in my opinion) for the public to go around worrying about the variants getting increasingly worse.’
Pfizer received full approval for its COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.
The approval would let the pharmaceutical giant advertise its vaccines, but Bourla told Fox News that advertisements are not a ‘priority’ for the company at this time.
He told the outlet that the company has instead been focused on trying to manufacture more vaccines quickly to meet global demands.
Bourla’s statements came after the World Health Organization called for a two-month moratorium on receiving booster shots in a bid to provide more vaccines globally, which could prevent future variants from emerging.
This summer, the CDC and Pfizer – as well as vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson – made statements expressing that the organizations remain confident that vaccines can protect against COVID-19 variants.
The CDC has noted that all authorized vaccines have shown 65% to 95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 – and more than 89% effectiveness against the coronavirus severe enough to require hospitalization.
The FDA gave the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval by Monday. Pictured: A nurse hold a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, August 17
The full approval may help convince vaccine hesitant Americans to get the shot. Pictured: A student at California State University Long Beach receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on campus, August 11
President Joe Biden celebrated the news and encouraged Americans to keep getting vaccinated
While some breakthrough cases are possible, health officials have continued to tell Americans that vaccines substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19 – even against the Delta variant.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at University of California San Francisco, conceded to Fox News that COVID-19 could possibly not ever be eliminated because its high transmissibility.
But she noted: ‘We can control the virus, which may ultimately cause mild symptoms in a small fraction of vaccinated individuals, and outbreaks of severe disease among those who have yet to receive shots.’
The Newsweek Magazine article noted that the World Health Organization is already keeping an eye on several mutations beyond Delta.
The Eta and Iota variants – as well as the Kappa variant which arose in India like the Delta variant – have all infected numerous countries.
Public health experts are particularly concerned about the Lambda variant and its ‘unusual success in infecting fully vaccinated people,’ Newsweek Magazine noted.
Dr. Imran Sharief, a pulmonary disease specialist, told Fox News that ‘new variants are going to continue to emerge’ until the United States reaches herd immunity, predicting that the virus could lose its ‘potency’ by ‘at least 2024.’
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