Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that he believed it was “likely” that a vaccine-resistant Covid-19 variant would eventually emerge on the world scene.
“We haven’t identified any yet, but we believe that it is likely that one day, one of them will emerge,” he told Fox News.
“Every time that a variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it,” Bourla said. “And they are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine.
Bourla added that Pfizer could produce new versions of its vaccine to combat a variant within three months of its discovery.
Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla says that a vaccine-resistant COVID variant will “likely” emerge. pic.twitter.com/TQhITNY0FM
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“We have built a process that within 95 days from the day that we identify a variant as a variant of concern, we will be able to have a vaccine tailor-made against this variant,” Bourla declared.
On Monday, authorities in Turkey announced they had discovered new variants of Covid-19 in the western coastal province of Izmir (Smyrna).
In a statement, the Izmir Medical Chamber and Association for Clinical Microbiology Expertise said that apart from the main mutations of the virus — the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants — new types were also discovered. It is not clear at the time of writing whether the variants are a cause of concern.
Concern for new Covid-19 variants
“These vaccines operate really well in protecting us from severe disease and death, but the big concern is that the next variant that might emerge — just a few mutations, potentially, away — could potentially evade our vaccines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said in a July 27 press briefing.
The UK government’s advisory panel, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said higher rates of virus circulation and transmission were creating “more opportunities for new variants to emerge.”
According to the World Health Organization, all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties.
However, some changes may affect the virus’ properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.
It adds, however, that current strategies and measures recommended by WHO continue to work against virus variants identified since the start of the pandemic.
WHO calls for moratorium on Covid-19 booster shots
The head of the World Health Organization has called for a two-month moratorium on administering Covid-19 vaccine booster shots.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus proposed the move as a means of reducing global vaccine inequality and preventing the emergence of new coronavirus variants.
Dr. Ghebreyesus said that he was “really disappointed” with the scope of vaccine donations worldwide.
Many countries are struggling to provide first and second doses to more than just a fraction of their populations, while wealthier nations maintain growing vaccine stockpiles.
The physician called on countries offering third vaccine doses “to share what can be used for boosters with other countries so (they) can increase their first and second vaccination coverage.”