Jan 10 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert
Bourla on Monday said a redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that
specifically targets the Omicron coronavirus variant is likely
needed and his company could have one ready to launch by March.
Bourla said Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE are
working on both an Omicron-targeted vaccine version as well as a
shot that would include both the previous vaccine as well as one
targeted at the fast-spreading variant.
"I think it is the most likely scenario," Bourla said,
speaking at J.P. Morgan's annual healthcare conference, which is
being held virtually this year. "We're working on higher doses.
We're working different schedules. We're doing a lot of things
right now, as we speak."
Bourla said Pfizer could be ready to file for U.S.
regulatory approval for a redesigned vaccine and launch it as
soon as March. Bourla said Pfizer has built up so much
manufacturing capacity for the vaccine that it will not be a
problem to switch immediately.
COVID-19 vaccines eventually could be an annual shot for
most people, Bourla said, and some high-risk groups might be
eligible to receive the shots more often than that.
Moderna Inc CEO Stephane Bancel said last week that
people could need another shot this fall, as the efficacy of
boosters is likely to decline over the next few months.
An Omicron-driven spike in COVID-19 cases has forced some
nations to look to another booster dose, but early signs suggest
repeat vaccination may be a hard sell https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pandemic-fatigue-makes-case-boosters-harder-sell-2022-01-10.
Pfizer earlier in the day announced three deals to broaden
the use of the messenger RNA technology (mRNA) that its COVID-19
vaccine was based on, including a pact worth as much as $1.35
billion with gene-editing specialist Beam Therapeutics.
The U.S. drugmaker has been looking to advance the
development of mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics after it led
global efforts to develop a COVID-19 shot against the COVID-19
The company will also collaborate with Codex DNA Inc
to leverage the biotech's proprietary technology, which
could enable more efficient development of mRNA-based vaccines,
therapeutics and other biopharma products.
Its deal with private biotech Acuitas Therapeutics will
focus on the use of the Vancouver-based company's lipid
nanoparticle technology for developing up to 10 vaccines or
(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York, Bhanvi Satija, Manojna
Maddipatla and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Will
Dunham, Devika Syamnath and Aditya Soni)