Pfizer CEO: COVID-19 vaccine may require third dose within 12 months

As vaccinations continue to roll out against COVID-19, the question remains as to whether additional booster shots will be needed in order to maintain protection against the virus and its variants. Pfizer is already testing to see whether a third shot is necessary — and now the company’s CEO calls that a probable outcome.

“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 revaccination — but all of that needs to be confirmed,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said while speaking on a CVS-hosted panel on the vaccination effort.

“There are vaccines like polio, that one dose is enough,” Bourla explained, “and there are vaccines like flu that you need every year. The COVID virus looks more like the influenza virus than the polio virus.”

The 30-minute discussion, moderated by CNBC correspondent Bertha Coombs and also featuring CVS Health President and CEO Karen S. Lynch, touched on the logistics of the ongoing vaccine rollout, as well as vaccination hesitancy. Bourla’s remarks on the possibility of additional doses comes after Pfizer announced in February that it was trialing a third COVID shot to be taken six to 12 months after the initial two-dose regimen, and examining whether such a shot would offer additional protection against any new strains of the virus that may yet emerge.