People are likely to need Covid-19 booster shots “for a number of years to come”, a Pfizer boss has said.
Ben Osborn, country manager for the pharmaceutical firm in the UK, said that it was not yet clear whether future boosters would be needed annually or every six months.
In an interview with the PA new agency to mark the anniversary of the first jab being given as part of a mass vaccination programme, Mr Osborn said that the campaign in the UK had been an “incredible endeavour”.On the Omicron variant of the virus, Mr Osborn said: “We’re all waiting for various data to come out, not just from Pfizer and BioNTech, but from governments and healthcare systems around the world.
“I think what we’ve got already is the basic understanding and the molecular understanding of the virus, and the mutations that we’ve seen well-documented.
“What we now need to understand is three things: The level of transmission that this new variant gives and whether it will out-compete Delta here in the UK; secondly, the impact of Omicron in terms of hospitalisations and potential death; and then of course, very importantly, thirdly, the impact of the vaccine on this variant.
“We will have more data in the coming weeks on all three of those factors that will then lead to decision-making not just for Pfizer, but for governments around the world.
“So we stand ready. If we do need a new vaccine then we would be able to develop that and manufacture at scale.“But in the meantime, the most important thing is that we are boosting up all of our adult population to get that baseline level of immunity as high as we possibly can.
Asked for how long people should expect to need boosters, he added: “I think it’s difficult to say in terms of many years because none of us can predict how the virus will evolve over time.
“I think what the science and data are now showing us though, is that we are likely to need some level of boosting across our adult population for a number of years to come yet.