Washington: The Biden administration is preparing for the the likelihood people will need a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine within a year of being inoculated, a requirement that would put even greater strain on the global supply of vaccines.
The statements by David Kessler, the chief science officer on President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response team, echoed remarks released earlier in the day from Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said a third COVID-19 vaccination may be needed within a year of the two-dose regimen. Credit:AP
Bourla said it was “likely” a booster shot will be necessary as soon as six months after the initial two-dose vaccine regimen.
It’s possible people will eventually need an annual booster shot to ensure they remain protected against the virus, he said.
“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 re-vaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed,” Bourla told CNBC.
“And again, the variants will play a key role.”
A pharmacist administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in Jackson, Mississippi. Credit:AP
He added: “It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”
In an appearance before Congress, Kessler said: “I think we should expect that we may have to boost, and probably have to boost again.
“No decision, but the current thinking is that certainly, those who are more vulnerable may have to go first.”
Kessler said the third booster shot may be required nine months or a year after receiving the two-dose regimen.
“We are preparing for that,” he said.
He said it was expected that the protection offered by the vaccines would weaken over time. New strains of COVID-19 pose an additional challenge as they require the vaccines to “work harder” to fend off the virus, he said.
Pfizer announced last week that it had applied for an emergency use authorisation so that children aged between 12 and 15 in the US can receive the company’s vaccine.
The US has been accused of “hoarding” vaccines given almost none of the doses manufactured in the country have been exported overseas.
As well as Australia, other close US allies such as Japan and Canada are struggling to secure enough vaccines to quickly vaccinate their populations.
The Biden administration has sent some does of AstraZeneca – which is not approved for use in the US – to Canada, Mexico and Japan.
The US would need to secure hundreds of millions of extra doses for its population if a third dose is required and and eligibility is extended to younger children.
Use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine remains suspended in the US as health regulators examine extremely rare cases of blood clots among vaccine recipients.
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