Pfizer CEO says it’s possible to distribute both boosters and primary doses

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(WASHINGTON) — Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday it’s possible to provide both COVID-19 booster shots as well as doses for people who have not yet been vaccinated.

“I think it is also not the right thing to try to resolve it with an ‘or’ when you can resolve it with an ‘and,'” Bourla told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “It’s not, ‘Shall we give boosters or give primary doses to other people.’ I think the answer should be, ‘Let’s give both boosters and doses for other people.’”

With millions more Americans now newly eligible for a booster COVID-19 shot from Pfizer, Bourla’s optimism punctuates what’s become a protracted, hot-button issue amongst the scientific community over who needs the boost and when.

Just after midnight Friday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed her independent advisory panel’s recommendation for seniors and other medically vulnerable Americans to get a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine six months after their second dose.

In a notable departure, Walensky partially overruled the panel by adding a recommendation for a third dose for people who are considered high risk due to where they work, such as nurses and teachers — a group the panel rejected in its recommendation.

The CDC’s final sign-off marked the starting gun for sleeves to start rolling up for a third shot at retail pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the country.

It also in part buttoned up what has become a seething scientific debate after the Biden administration announced there would be “boosters-for-all” before any review from the regulatory bodies or their independent groups. While the White House’s political appointees had endorsed President Joe Biden’s timeline, some of their career scientists and advisers vehemently objected to the incomplete data they were being asked to assess.

The booster debate has played out as the delta variant sweeps across states and threatens hard-fought gains against the virus here at home and as the World Health Organization continues to call for a moratorium on booster shots in the interest of more equitable distribution of primary vaccinations, as many still countries struggle with providing first and second doses.

Gathering world leaders virtually Wednesday on the U.N. General Assembly’s sidelines, Biden announced the U.S. would donate another half billion doses of Pfizer vaccine to lower-income nations.

Pfizer, the first vaccine maker to administer shots in the U.S. more than nine months ago, had cited data from Israel and elsewhere showing the vaccine’s robust protection began to wane with time. In April, Bourla predicted a third coronavirus dose was “likely” to be needed within a year of the primary two-dose course. In July, the company announced plans to ask the FDA to authorize a booster shot of the original vaccine six months after the second dose.

Earlier this month, Pfizer’s submitted brief to the FDA made the case that it’s time to “restore” full protection from the COVID-19 vaccines, even though they are still protecting most vaccinated people from being hospitalized.

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