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Pfizer CEO says third vaccine dose will 'likely be needed within six to 12 months'

In Ireland, it was confirmed last night that four variants of concern had been identified in mandatory hotel quarantine

LAST UPDATE | 16 Apr 2021

THE CEO OF Pfizer has said that people will “likely” need a third booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine within six to 12 months of being fully vaccinated with two doses.

The Pfizer inoculation is delivered in two separate shots, with Ireland currently advising that they be three to four weeks apart.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last night that, after being fully vaccinated with a second dose, it is likely that a third dose will be needed “somewhere between six and 12 months” before an annual revaccination. 

“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. And again, the variants will play a key role,” he told US network CNBC

The development comes after it was confirmed on Wednesday that the European Commission has entered into an agreement with Pfizer that will see the company supplying 1.8 billion doses of vaccine over the period of 2021 to 2023

As part of the deal, Pfizer agreed to move forward some of its deliveries from Q4 to Q2 that will mean 50 million extra doses in the second quarter of the year in the EU.

The talk of booster jabs and booster jabs for variants come as the UK reported the discovery of 77 cases of a Covid-19 variant first detected in India.

Public Health England (PHE) reported that 73 cases of the B.1.617 variant have been confirmed in England as well as four cases in Scotland.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the variant features two “escape mutations” – E484Q and L452R – which “are causing people to be concerned”.

“There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations,” he said.

In India, Covid-19 rates are soaring, with more than 13.9 million confirmed cases and 172,000 deaths.

The country is not currently on the UKs “red list” of travel ban nations, which sees people who have been in those countries in the previous 10 days refused entry to the UK.

In Ireland, it was confirmed last night that 18 people in mandatory hotel quarantine have so far tested positive for Covid-19, of which four involve probable variants of concern.

Minister Stephen Donnelly also said that the government would be moving to exempt people from mandatory hotel quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated, instead requiring them to quarantine at home.

Elsewhere, the head of the World Health Organisation has said coronavirus cases are continuing to rise globally at “worrying” rates and noted that the number of new cases confirmed per week has nearly doubled during the past two months.

At a press briefing today in Geneva, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of new cases “is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far in the pandemic”.

Adhanom said some countries that had been able to avoid widespread Covid-19 outbreaks are now seeing steep increases, citing Papua New Guinea as an example.

“Until the beginning of this year, Papua New Guinea had reported less than 900 cases and nine deaths,” he said said.

The country has now identified more than 9,000 cases and 83 deaths, half of which were reported in the last month.

“Papua New Guinea is a perfect example of why vaccine equity is so important,” Dr Tedros said, adding that the Pacific island nation has relied on vaccine donations from Australia and the UN-backed Covax initiative.

To date, Covax has shipped about 40 million vaccines to more than 100 countries, or enough to protect about 0.25% of the world’s population.

- With reporting by Press Association 

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