During an appearance on CBS News Sunday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that Americans would need a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to fend off future variants of the virus.
Speaking with anchor Margaret Brennan, Bourla noted that COVID-19 vaccines are still extremely effective in protecting against severe disease and death. However, the highly contagious omicron variant was still able to infect record numbers of Americans.
"The protection that you are getting from the third (dose), it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths. It's not that good against infections, but doesn't last very long," Bourla said.
Bourla also noted that in developing the next booster shot, Pfizer aimed to develop a formula that would protect against current and future variant strains of the virus — a shot that would protect people for a longer period of time.
"So what we are trying to do, and we are working very diligently right now, it is to make not only a vaccine that will protect against all variants, including omicron, but also something that can protect for at least a year," Bourla said. "And if we be able to achieve that, then I think it is very easy to follow and remember so that we can go back to really the way used to live."
Brennan also asked if Americans should prepare to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster each year along with their flu shots.
"I think so. And I think this is what we are trying now to make," he said.
Bourla's comments Sunday confirmed what other health officials have been forecasting for months. White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in December that he thought a fourth dose was "conceivable," and Moderna's CEO said in January that she thought a second booster would be needed this fall.
Brennan also asked Bourla on Sunday about when he believed Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for young children would be available. Bourla said he believed Pfizer would be able to provide data to the FDA and CDC "next month," putting the shots on track for approval by May.
"Potentially May if it works, if the answer will do their utmost to review them fast. So and we will be ready with manufacturing," Bourla said.
In February, Pfizer amended its emergency use authorization request, further delaying potential approval of the shots for children four and younger. That age group is currently the only group not to be approved to get a COVID-19 vaccine.