Vaccine Maker Just Made This Chilling COVID Prediction
The CEO of BioNTech said the current vaccines are working well, but that won't always be the case.
With more than half of the country fully vaccinated, the question of booster shots for the masses continues to be a major topic of discussion. While a large percentage of the vaccinated population is already eligible for additional doses of the existing vaccines, everyone may need more targeted shots down the line. One vaccine maker predicts that in the near future, the current vaccines will need to be updated, which means we could be due for a new COVID shot sooner than expected.
Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech (which co-created the Pfizer vaccine), told the Financial Times that the world will likely need a new COVID vaccine by mid-2022, as reported by Business Insider. The new vaccine will be necessary to protect against future variants that the current vaccines will no longer work against. "This year [a different vaccine] is completely unneeded. But by mid next year, it could be a different situation," Sahin said.
The CEO believes that the next iteration of the vaccines will need to be "tailored" to address forthcoming mutations, because they will likely be able to evade the immune response that the current vaccines provide. "This virus will stay, and the virus will further adapt," Sahin continued. "We have no reason to assume that the next generation virus will be easier to handle for the immune system than the existing generation. This is a continuous evolution, and that evolution has just started."
Sahin noted that the current boosters aim to provide extra protection against the Delta variant. As the virus continues to mutate, new boosters can target the new mutations.
Other vaccine experts have offered similar predictions. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recently told ABC's This Week that he believes within a year, we'll be able to return to normal life, but the variants will continue to mutate. He feels that to address the continuous evolution, a new vaccine will be created every year.
"The most likely scenario for me is that because the virus is spread all over the world, that it will continue seeing new variants that are coming out," Bourla said. "Also, we will have vaccines that they will last at least a year, and I think the most likely scenario is annual vaccination, but we don't know really. We need to wait and see the data."
During a recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society View From the Top Session in August, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel offered a similar timeline. He predicted that COVID would continue mutating "a lot" through the summer or the end of 2022. "I think there's another 12 to 18 months of … mutations coming." Just like Bourla, Bancel also believes yearly vaccination with updated shots will be necessary.