If You Got Johnson & Johnson, This Is When You'll Get a Booster, CEO Says
In a few months, doses might even become an annual tradition.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the U.S. may only have started just short of six months ago, but the effect it has had on the pandemic is undeniable. Now, as cases continue to drop nationwide and health officials push for more of the public to get their shots, others are already looking forward to how we'll deal with the virus in the future to keep it from roaring back. And according to Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, this will likely involve an annual booster shot that will be administered alongside other important doses.
While appearing virtually at The Wall Street Journal Tech Health conference, Gorsky said he believed that COVID-19 booster shots would probably be necessary until herd immunity could be achieved on a global level to limit the spread of the disease. "We could be looking at [COVID boosters] tagging along with the flu shot, likely over the next several years," he predicted.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one of three shots approved for use in the U.S. and has proven effective against new variants. But unlike the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines that require two doses to reach full effectiveness, it's a single shot that doesn't require extreme refrigeration during transport and storage. Gorsky says this will likely make it uniquely equipped to easily administer doses to developing countries and help achieve global herd immunity as quickly as possible.
"We still believe that this is going to be a very important tool in the overall armamentarium to help overall contain COVID and make a big difference for the world," he said.
Gorsky isn't the first head of a pharmaceutical company to weigh in on when booster shots would be required. In an email exchange Axios on May 19, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel predicted a gap of eight to nine months between your original Moderna vaccination and a booster shot. "People at highest risks (elderly, healthcare workers) were vaccinated in December/January," Bancel wrote. "So I would do [a] September start for those at highest risk."
After clarifying that he didn't want to take any chances, Bancel added, "I think as a country we should rather be two months too early than two months too late with outbreaks in several places."
During an Axios live event on the same date, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also predicted that those who were vaccinated earliest could be up for a third dose as early as September. "The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months," he said.