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Pfizer CEO unsure on need for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer CEO unsure on need for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine
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A nurse fills syringes for patients as they receive a booster vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination clinic in Southfield, Michigan, US, September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Emily Elconin

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(Reuters) – Pfizer CEO Albert Borla said on Monday he was not sure a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine would be needed and that a shot targeting the highly contagious type of Omicron would be ready in March.

The comments contrast with those made by Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) CEO Stephen Bansell, who said last week that people may need another shot in the fall of 2022 as the effectiveness of the boosters is likely to decline over the next few months.

The massive increase in Omicron-driven COVID-19 cases has prompted some states to seek another booster dose, but early indications are that repeat vaccination may be challenging as the trapped population enters its third pandemic year. Read more

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“I don’t know if a fourth booster is needed, it’s something that needs testing,” Borla said on CNBC, before Pfizer’s presentation at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference.

He said work is underway on a new version of a COVID-19 vaccine that will be effective against Omicron and other variants.

Earlier today, the US drug company announced three deals to expand use of the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology on which its COVID-19 vaccine is based, including a $1.35 billion deal with gene-editing specialist Beam Therapeutics (BEAM).O.

Pfizer has been looking to advance the development of mRNA-based vaccines and therapies after it led the global effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine against the pandemic.

The company will also collaborate with Codex DNA Inc (DNAY.O) to leverage biotech’s proprietary technology, which could enable more efficient development of mRNA-based vaccines, therapies, and other biopharmaceutical products.

It deals with biotech company Acuitas Therapeutics and will focus on using the company’s Vancouver-based lipid nanoparticle technology to develop up to ten vaccines or treatments.

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Additional reporting by Bhanvi Satyga, Manoina Madipatla and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Siamnath and Aditya Soni

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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