Albert Bourla hopes the idea of annual vaccinations will be far easier to sell to the public
The CEO of Pfizer has tried to appease vaccine skeptics with an idea of Covid-19 booster shots only once a year - instead of every few months - all while attacking the most vocal anti-vaxxers as "criminals" who "profit from circulating misinformation."
In a series of interviews with Israeli TV channels, Albert Bourla said it would "not be a good scenario" if people were to get boosters every four to five months. "What I'm hoping [is] that we will have a vaccine that you will have to do once a year," he told Channel 12 news on Saturday.
Bourla argued that it is both easier to sell the idea and "easier for people to remember" if a vaccine is required only once per year, calling it "an ideal situation" from "a public health perspective."
"We are looking to see if we can create a vaccine that covers Omicron and doesn't forget the other variants and that could be a solution," the CEO added, indicating that such a vaccine could be mass produced from March.
In a separate interview with Channel 13 news, Bourla admitted there was a "sizable minority" of people who are hesitant to take the vaccine. Within this group, the pharma giant's CEO - who earned over $21 million in 2020 alone - singled out "a tiny minority of people who profit from circulating misinformation," fiercely attacking them as "criminals."
Amid the global spread of the Omicron variant, countries are increasingly recommending a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to "boost" the immune system.
Already one of the most vaccinated places in the world, Israel was among the first to approve the second booster, which according to early studies was found to be largely ineffective at preventing new infections. After fourth doses were introduced, Israel recorded its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases this week.
Both the World Health Organization and the EU's drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, have previously cautioned against the over-use of boosters, though for different reasons. The WHO has called for a more even distribution of vaccine doses around the world, observing that some nations are moving ahead with third and fourth shots before many in poorer countries receive their first. The EMA, meanwhile, pointed to potential adverse effects of boosters, warning that repeated vaccinations in a short period of time could eventually result in "problems with immune response."