Omicron: Fourth dose needed to deal with new strain, says Pfizer

The Chief Executive of pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, Dr Albert Bourla, has confirmed that a fourth COVID-19 jab will be needed to deal with Omicron.

He warned that it would likely be required within a matter of months.

Bourla has for weeks been floating the idea of annual boosters, even before concerns about the new super mutant variant were raised.

He told CNBC News that three doses ‘will give very good protection’ against COVID-19 this winter but scientists are unsure how fast immunity wanes.

He said, “I will think we will need the fourth dose; I have said that multiple times. With the previous variants, I was projecting that it will be on 12 months after the third dose. With Omicron, we need to wait and see because we have very little information. We may need it faster.”

Bourla position on fourth dose came after Pfizer on Saturday warned that two doses of its vaccine would not prevent Omicron infections but ‘may still offer protection against severe disease’.

‘Nigeria’ll remain dumping ground till vaccine plants are built’

In a related development, some pharmaceutical and virology experts have urged the Federal Government to be intentional about the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine plant in the country so as to be able to cater to the needs of the over 200 million Nigerian citizens living in Nigeria.

They spoke in light of the current revelation that some of the COVID-19 vaccine doses sent to Nigeria arrived within four to six weeks of expiry and could not be used in time despite efforts by health authorities.

Reacting, a professor of pharmacokinetics and Vice-Chancellor, Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Peace Chinedum-Babalola, urged the Federal Government to intervene by supporting researchers and increasing access for a vaccine plant in the country so as to stop this menace of receiving leftovers from the West.

“We are overripe as a country to make our own vaccines. I recall that May and Baker acquired one of the government’s facilities in Lagos, but I cannot tell how ready it is for use at the moment.

“The government must focus on increasing access to quality medicine. When you are a consuming nation, you become a dumping ground for leftovers. We should be more intentional in changing the tides.”

SOURCE: THE PUNCH

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