The United States reported a new record high for Covid-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that the seven-day average of hospitalizations in the U.S. reached 140,576, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
The majority of the cases are believed to be the Omicron variant, the highly transmissible Covid variant that was first discovered in November 2021 and has since taken over new infections in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 98% of Covid cases are Omicron.
Although many experts say that the Omicron variant is significantly mild than previous variants, doctors believe that the sheer amount of cases caused by the variant has led to an unprecedented amount of hospitalizations.
“It’s a numbers game,” said Michelle Prickett, a pulmonary and critical-care specialist at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital told Fox News.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announces Omicron vaccine
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday that the development of a retooled Omicron vaccine specifically targeted to the newest coronavirus variant is the “most likely scenario” in the future fight against the disease.
Making his remarks at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday, Bourla said Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech SE are in the process of developing both an Omicron vaccine and an inoculation that would include both the previous vaccine as well as the specifically-targeted shot.
Later, in an appearance on CNBC, Bourla expanded on the work being done right now by Pfizer, the company which produced the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine, and whether or not there is a need for additional boosters beyond the third shot.
“We are doing everything we can so that we can stay ahead of the virus. I don’t know if there is any need for a fourth booster. That is something that needs to be tested,” Bourla stated.
Omicron vaccine will be ready by March; fourth booster may not be needed
“I know that Israel is already doing some of these experiments and we will also conduct some of these experiments, to make sure that it’s needed. I don’t think we should be doing something that is not needed,” the CEO cautioned.
Bourla explained that his company is now “working on a new version of our vaccine, a version that will be effective against Omicron as well as (the other variants). The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection against infections. The protection against hospitalizations and severe disease is reasonable right now with the current vaccines right now, with the third dose,” he stated.
“This vaccine will be ready in March,” Bourla declared, adding “I don’t know if we will need it or when and how it will be used, but it will be ready.
“And in fact, we are already manufacturing some quantities of it. So if there is a need for this vaccine, we will have some immediately — because so many governments would like to see it immediately.”