On Tuesday, Aug. 24, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated that the company thinks a COVID-19 vaccine-resistant variant may eventually emerge in the future.
“Every time that a variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it,” Bourla said. “And they are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine.
“We haven’t identified any yet, but we believe that it is likely that one day, one of them will emerge.”
Bourla mentioned a company procedure for developing a variant-specific vaccine in less than 95 days after detecting the problematic variant.
“We have built a process that within 95 days from the day that we identify a variant as a variant of concern, we will be able to have a vaccine tailor-made against this variant,” Bourla said.
The CDC data indicates that 62.5% of adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 73.1% receiving at least one dose. While federal health officials plan to begin administering COVID-19 booster doses to the majority of Americans in September, pending FDA approval, the head of the World Health Organization on Monday urged for a two-month moratorium on giving COVID-19 vaccine booster doses to reduce global vaccination inequality and prevent the introduction of new coronavirus variants, FoxNews reported.
Nonetheless, full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday was largely expected to enhance confidence in the vaccine and speed up vaccination rates across the country.
Vaccine evasion has been discussed, although experts are split on the issue, per Insider.
“These vaccines operate really well in protecting us from severe disease and death, but the big concern is that the next variant that might emerge — just a few mutations, potentially, away—could potentially evade our vaccines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said in a July 27 press briefing.
According to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies of the UK government, higher rates of virus circulation and transmission were creating “more opportunities for new variants to emerge.”
As of Monday, the CDC estimated that 93 percent of U.S. states were at a “high level of community transmission.” In the last month, the number of new daily cases has more than quadrupled.
However, virologist Angela Rasmussen of the University of Saskatchewan in Canada told the Telegraph that a vaccine-resistant strain was unlikely.
“It would require so many mutations in the spike protein that this virus wouldn’t ‘work’ anymore,” Rasmussen said.