Pfizer’s CEO Says Fourth COVID Shot Is Needed. Is He Right?

March 15, 2022 — The CEO of vaccine maker Pfizer said

Over the weekend that people who have already received three shots. Of his company’s COVID-19 vaccine will need a fourth dose. Albert Burla, Ph.D., said the data the company has submitted. To the FDA but has not yet made public shows this need. Although a third dose of the mRNA vaccine may still reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. A fourth dose is necessary. “necessary” to prevent future infections, he said on CBS. Facing the nation. This week, Pfizer is expected to ask the FDA to approve the fourth shot for people aged 65 and over. The Washington Post reported this on Tuesday.

In all of this, we have asked infectious disease experts to weigh in,

Especially as the daily number of new cases. Continues to fall to levels not seen since July 2021. “To date, there is limited information on the need or effectiveness of a fourth dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine,”. Says Matthew Harris, MD. A small study in Israel found that the fourth dose raised antibody levels. To higher levels than in patients who received only three doses.

But the study did not show that the fourth dose is effective in preventing infection. With the Omicron variant, says Harris, medical director of Northwell. Health’s COVID-19 vaccination program in New Hyde Park, New York. “It seems more likely that COVID-19 vaccines will become part of a seasonal vaccination similar to the flu vaccine,” he says. Jason Pogue, a pharmacist, agrees that the fourth dose is more a matter of “when” than “if.” “Whether it will be the currently available vaccine, the Omicron-specific vaccine, the vaccine that targets some future variant, or some combination of these vaccines remains to be determined,” he says.

Ask your doctor

If you think you may need a fourth shot, contact your doctor or other health care provider, especially if it has been 6 months or more since your last shot. The CDC currently recommends vaccination and booster for everyone 12 years of age and older, and two doses for children ages 5 to 11. People with weakened immune systems are already advised to get another dose. Harris recommends that those who have been fully vaccinated and revaccinated for more than 6 months continue to practice “good hand hygiene” as well as “mask-wearing and social distancing where appropriate and frequent testing.”

Karen Tashima, MD, agrees it can wait for now.

“If patients are fully vaccinated and boosted and the transmission of the virus in their communities is low, I would advise them not to vaccinate further,” she says. While it’s true that after 6 months, protection from vaccines and boosters starts to wane from infection, you’re still “extremely well protected against severe disease,” says Pogue, a clinical professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

The fourth dose of zeal

How strong will Pfizer’s data support the fourth dose? How difficult will it be to get the “pandemic tired” to come for another COVID-19 vaccination in the near future? What is the probability that the worst of the pandemic in the US is over, especially since cases of infection with the Omicron virus subvariant BA.2 keep jumping in the UK and across Europe?

The #Pfizer hashtag is popular on Twitter, with 126,000 tweets at the time of the last check. Many people are commenting on Burla’s call for a fourth dose of the vaccine on social media.

Reports of decreased effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine boosters are nothing new. It seems impossible to ever know if Pfizer is altruistic, businesslike, or a combination of both. But the positive data on the mRNA booster could be good for the company’s bottom line. For example, Moderna shares jumped 11% last month when the company announced that a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine would likely be needed before the end of the year.

Is it better to be prepared?

  • “We don’t know if a fourth dose is needed at this point,” says Tashima, an infectious disease doctor.
  • But she says it’s important to keep an eye on any new outbreaks.
  • “If we have new surges that cause hospitalization and death, we will need to get another dose. We have to be prepared for this possibility,” she says.
  • So it makes sense for vaccine companies to be ready to supply when needed, says Tashima, director of clinical trials at Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
According to Harris, the need for additional doses is based on several things. The increase in the number of variants, the frequency of sudden infections, hospitalizations and deaths associated with variants, and local vaccination rates can also figure into the equation.

Any call for a fourth dose must be backed by data, he said.

“Available evidence suggests that protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death remains reasonably robust at three doses, with multiple reports suggesting a 90% to 99% reduction in these outcomes at three doses,” Pog says.

“The widespread introduction of a fourth dose would not add any measurable benefit over these numbers.”

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