Third vaccine dose ‘likely’ needed within 12 months - Pfizer CEO | Daily News

Third vaccine dose ‘likely’ needed within 12 months - Pfizer CEO

US: The head of Pfizer said in an interview aired Thursday that people will "likely" need a third dose of his company's COVID-19 shot within six to 12 months of vaccination, while elsewhere defending the relatively higher cost of the jab.

CEO Albert Bourla also said annual vaccinations against the coronavirus may well be required.

"We need to see what would be the sequence, and for how often we need to do that, that remains to be seen," Bourla told CNBC in an interview recorded on April 1.

"A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed," he said, adding that variants will play a "key role."

"It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus," he said.

Researchers currently don't know how long vaccines provide protection against the coronavirus.

Pfizer published a study earlier this month that said its jab is more than 91 percent effective at protecting against the coronavirus, and more than 95 percent effective against severe cases of COVID-19 up to six months after the second dose.

The Pfizer vaccine, developed by the US-based company in partnership with German firm BioNTech, currently plays a leading role in American and European vaccination campaigns.

The pharmaceutical giant announced in February that it was testing a third dose of its vaccine to better combat the emerging variants. And Bourla said Thursday the company was working on a new formula that would allow the vaccine to be stored for four to six months at a normal temperature, rather than the minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit) or below currently required.

Israel to scrap outdoor mask mandate

Israelis will no longer have to wear masks outdoors starting from Sunday as the number of virus infections plummets, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said.

"The rate of infection in Israel is very low thanks to the successful vaccine campaign in Israel, and therefore it is possible to ease (restrictions)," Edelstein said in a statement Thursday.

He said however that masks will still be required indoors.

With close to five million people -- more than half the population of 9.3 million -- vaccinated, Israel continues its world-beating campaign that sent coronavirus infection rates down.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obtained millions of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines in part by agreeing to share with Pfizer medical data on the product's impact.

The vaccines have transformed life in Israel. In mid-January the country had a peak of some 10,000 new infections a day but the rate is now about 200 cases a day.

France's COVID-19 deaths pass 100,000

The number of people killed by COVID-19 in France climbed past 100,000 on Thursday, with the virus claiming a further 300 lives in the past 24 hours, the country's health authority said.

The current death toll stands at 100,232.

France is the third country in Europe to reach the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths, after the United Kingdom and Italy.

Nearly 30,000 people were killed in France in the first wave of the pandemic between mid-March and mid-May last year but the bulk of the deaths have been recorded since October, when the country was hit by a second surge in infections that remained stuck at a high level through the end of 2020.

India's daily virus cases double in 10 days

India's daily coronavirus caseload has doubled in 10 days, with a record 200,000 new infections logged Thursday as authorities grapple with shortages of vaccines, treatments and hospital beds.

India is experiencing a vicious second wave, recording almost two million fresh infections this month alone.

This week, it overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases worldwide, after the United States.

In the past day it also recorded over 1,000 deaths, health ministry data showed, taking its total to 175,000, although on a per-capita basis India is far behind many other countries.

Many states are tightening the screws, in particular Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, which this week introduced tougher restrictions for its 125 million people. - AFP