Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Fox News on Tuesday that he believed it was “likely” a vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant would eventually emerge.
“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 added that Pfizer could produce new versions of its vaccine to combat a variant within three months of its discovery.
“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.
This is not the first time this concern of vaccine evasion has been brought up, but experts’ opinions are split.
“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.
The UK government’s advisory panel, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said higher rates of virus circulation and transmission were creating “more opportunities for new variants to emerge.”
The CDC estimated 93% of US states were at a “high level of community transmission” as of Monday. New daily cases have more than quadrupled in the past month.
But Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, told the Telegraph that the possibility of 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.
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