Pfizer’s Dr Albert Bourla stated that Covid jabs might be required every year.
Britons could need a Covid vaccine every year to maintain ‘very high’ levels of protection, Pfizer’s boss said today.
In an interview, Dr Albert Bourla from the UK’s leading vaccine supplier suggested that booster jabs might be necessary for many years.
According to him, the US pharmaceutical company was working already on an improved jab for fighting the Omicron variant. This may make it more difficult to evade vaccine-induced immunity.
Britain bought another 114million Covid vaccines that could be altered to treat variants.
This deal indicates that ministers plan to improve the nation’s ability to withstand the winters ahead.
Moderna has 60 million, while Pfizer is 54 million.
The BBC heard Dr Bourla tell it that annual vaccinations…are necessary to protect the body.
After studies showing that antibodies begin to decline around six months following the administration of the second dose, booster drives have been launched in many countries.
Although clinical trials have not yet proved this, experts fear that the Omicron variant may make current jabs less efficient due to its numerous mutations.
Every year the flu vaccine is rolled out. Experts also tweak it annually in order to guard against new strains. Only a quarter of Britons receive the vaccine annually.
Bourla stated that Pfizer expects to supply three billion doses by year’s end. Four billion will be available next year. A jab against Omicron would require around 100 days, he said.
Moderna will be able to supply an additional 60 million doses. Pfizer/BioNTech has 54million.
This chart displays the total number of UK vaccine orders and the order cancellations. The 54 million Pfizer jabs or the 60million Moderna vaccine doses are not included in this chart.
The Department of Health has said extra Moderna and Pfizer jabs will be delivered in 2022 and 2023, giving the UK a steady supply for the next two years.
Officials said they ‘accelerated’ the signing of the new contracts in light of the newly discovered Omicron strain.
This order comes on top of 35 million additional Pfizer/BioNTech jabs that were ordered in August and will be delivered in the second quarter of next year. It also includes the 60 million Novavax doses and the 7.5million GSK/Sanofi doses, which are expected to arrive in 2022.
The new deal – negotiated by the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce – ensures access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron or future variants of concern.
This comes just as ministers unveil an advertising campaign that encourages people to take their third chance as soon as the NHS notifies them.
Today’s deal comes on the first anniversary of UK regulators becoming the first in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine – a move which sparked this year’s world-beating jabs rollout. The ministers have made it clear that they plan to offer a booster program for Covid every year at the very least for the next two.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Thanks to the Vaccine Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.
‘These new deals will future-proof the Great British vaccination effort – which has so far delivered more than 115million first, second and booster jabs across the UK – and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.
‘This is a national mission, and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms – so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted.’
Six separate vaccine developers have now granted the government access to 453.5million doses of vaccines.
Pfizer secured deals to provide 184 million jabs for the UK. This is the largest supply agreement of any company.
After the emergence Omicron, Mr Javid contacted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for quick advice on extending booster programmes to all 18-year-olds.
This week the NHS was able to accept the advice, and offer a boost for all adults eligible in England until January.
Experts believe that existing vaccines will offer some protection from new variants. This is especially true for severe illnesses and deaths.
Leading manufacturers, however, are working hard to modify their formulas for greater resistance to emerging threats.
The Government advises are hopeful that boosting antibodies with existing jabs can prevent another Omicron wave.
Around 400 military personnel will join the deployment support team to speed up the vaccine programme. There are 1,500 community pharmacies and additional hospitals hubs. Pop-up sites also open in convenient places across the country.
More than 3,000 sites are already open in England – more than double the number in February.
But global health leaders yesterday questioned the UK’s booster campaign. Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme, said he is not aware of any evidence that would suggest offering booster jabs to the entire population gives any greater protection to healthy people.
Asked about the acceleration of the UK’s booster programme, he told a press briefing: ‘It’s tough for some countries who have huge amounts of excess vaccine to decide who to give it to, but that’s not the problem being faced by a lot of countries around the world who can’t get even primary vaccination to their most vulnerable…
‘There are others here who can better answer than me… but right now there is no evidence that I’m aware of that would suggest that boosting the entire population is going to necessarily provide any greater protection for otherwise healthy individuals against hospitalisation or death.’