Pfizer CEO Predicts Annual COVID-19 Vaccinations

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
September 27, 2021 Updated: September 27, 2021

People will end up needing an annual COVID-19 shot, Pfizer’s CEO has predicted.

Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel said last week that he believes the COVID-19 pandemic will end next year. He said more and more people will get a COVID-19 vaccine, and those who don’t will gain natural immunity by recovering from the disease.

“In this way, we will end up in a situation similar to that of the flu—you can either get vaccinated and have a good winter or you don’t do it and risk getting sick and possibly even ending up in hospital,” Bancel told a Swiss newspaper.

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he agreed that normal life would resume within a year.

“I don’t think that this means that variants will not be continuing coming. And I don’t think that this means that we should be able to live our lives without having immune—without having vaccinations, basically. But that remains to be seen,” Bourla said.

“The most likely scenario for me, it is that, because the virus is spread all over the world, that we will continue seeing new variants that are coming out. And also, we will have vaccines that they will last at least a year. And I think the most likely scenario, it is annual re-vaccinations. But we don’t know really. We need to wait and see the data.”

Many Americans get a flu shot every year, and some experts have predicted that COVID-19 vaccinations will turn into an annual occurrence due in part to the shots’ waning efficacy.

Three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for administration in the United States. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one authorized or approved for children aged 12 to 17. In recent weeks, U.S. regulators authorized third doses, or boosters, for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people with weak immune systems. Last week, regulators expanded the authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine, allowing boosters for tens of millions of people.

Pfizer expects to soon request authorization for its shot to be administered to children as young as 6 months.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a recent interview that she’s not sure if yearly COVID-19 shots will be recommended.

“Your question is an important one, and it is one we don’t necessarily have the answer for yet. We are working to stay ahead of the virus,” she said.

In August, she said that officials were “not necessarily anticipating that you will need this annually.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.