Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla predicts normal life will return within a year and adds we may need annual Covid shots

PUBLISHED: Mon, 27 Sep 2021 07:36:12 GMT
Catherine Clifford
CNBC
Share
Key Points
  • “Within a year I think we will be able to come back to normal life,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
  • Bourla said “the most likely scenario” is the need for annual coronavirus vaccine shots.
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.

Read more: Pfizer’s CEO says COVID vaccine effectiveness drops to 84% after six months

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.

Read more: S.Africa signs deal for 20 mln Pfizer COVID-19 doses

“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.”

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Daily Update
Get the best of CNBC Africa sent straight to your inbox with breaking business news, insights and updates from experts across the continent.
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services. By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.