Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on CNBC Monday that an Omicron-specific vaccine from the company will be ready by March.
“We are working on a new version of our vaccine, a version that will be effective against Omicron as well, it’s not that it will not be effective against the other variants, but against Omicron as well,” Bourla said. “The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection, particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalizations and severe disease, it is reasonable right now with the current vaccine, as long as you are having, let’s say, the third dose.”
“This vaccine will be ready in March. I don’t know if we will need it, I don’t know if and how it will be used, but will be ready,” Bourla said. “In fact, we already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk, so if there is a need for that vaccine that we will have some immediately because there are a lot of governors that would like to see it immediately.”
More context: Leaders of the US Food and Drug Administration said last Monday that while vaccine manufacturers are all working toward the possibility of a Omicron-specific vaccine, but it might not be necessary.
“We don’t know yet whether Omicron will take hold as the dominant variant over time. It could be that we have a very quick wave of Omicron and something else will be left behind it. Until we understand that, we can’t say with certainty what we will do with a variant vaccine,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “In other words, we don’t know yet whether it will have to be deployed, but we’ll be ready in case it does need to be deployed.”
If a booster shot of the current vaccine appears to offer sufficient protection, there is less need for a variant-specific vaccine, said acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.
CNN's Deidre McPhillips contributed reporting to this post.