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
There will be a return to normal life within a year, Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla said on Sunday, adding that it’s likely annual Covid vaccination shots will be necessary.
“Within a year I think we will be able to come back to normal life,” Bourla said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Returning to normal life will have caveats, he said: “I don’t think that this means that the variants will not continue coming, and I don’t think that this means that we should be able to live our lives without having vaccinations,” Bourla said. “But that, again, remains to be seen.”
Bourla’s prediction about when normal life will resume is in keeping with that of Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. “As of today, in a year, I assume,” Bancel told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, according to Reuters on Thursday, when asked for his estimate of a return to normal life.
In order to make that happen, Pfizer’s Bourla suggested it is likely annual coronavirus vaccine shots will be needed.
“The most likely scenario for me is that, because the virus is spread all over the world, that it will continue seeing new variants that are coming out,” Bourla said. “Also we will have vaccines that they will last at least a year, and I think the most likely scenario is annual vaccination, but we don’t know really, we need to wait and see the data.”
On Friday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky authorized the distribution of Pfizer and BioNTech‘s Covid-19 booster shots for those in high-risk occupational and institutional settings, a move that overruled an advisory panel. Walensky approved distributing the booster shots to older Americans and adults with underlying medical conditions at least six months after their first series of shots, in line with the advisory panel.
The World Health Organization strongly opposes a widespread rollout of booster shots, saying wealthier nations should give extra doses to countries with minimal vaccination rates.
Bourla said on Sunday it is “not right to decide if you’re going to approve or not boosters” on any other criteria than “if the boosters are needed.”
On Tuesday, Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, criticized Moderna and Pfizer for not sharing vaccination intellectual property more broadly to help accelerate global vaccination rates.
“While focusing on selling expensive vaccines to rich countries, Moderna and Pfizer are doing next to nothing to close the global gap in vaccine supply. Shameful,” Frieden said tweeted on Twitter.
Bourla said it is not a good idea to wave intellectual property.
“Intellectual property is what created the thriving life sciences sector that was ready when the pandemic hit,” Bourla said. “Without that, we wouldn’t be here to discuss if we didn’t with us or not because we wouldn’t have vaccines … Also, we are very proud of what we have done. I don’t know why [Frieden] is using these words. We are very proud. We have saved millions of lives.”
Pfizer is selling vaccines at different prices to countries with different levels of wealth. Developing countries are buying vaccines at cost from Pfizer, Bourla said. And Bourla pointed to the fact that Pfizer is selling one billion vaccine doses to the U.S. government at cost. The U.S. government is then donating those vaccine doses “at no cost, completely free, to the poorest countries of the world,” he said.