After a year and a half that has seen vaccines rolled out and contagious variants spread, many experts have gone back and forth on their timelines for when they believe the ongoing threat of COVID-19 could be put behind us. But even as some parts of the world still face rising cases or a shortage of necessary doses, some are becoming confident that the trajectory could change relatively soon. This list now includes Albert Bourla, CEO of pharmaceutical company and vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, who just predicted that the pandemic could finally be over in a relatively short amount of time. Read on to see how long he believes it will be before we can move past the virus.
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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla believes the pandemic will finally be over “within a year.”
During a Sept. 26 interview on ABC News’ This Week, Bourla told host George Stephanopoulos that he believed the pandemic could soon become a thing of the past, even if some elements of COVID-19 continued to affect society. “I agree that within a year, I think we will be able to come back to normal life,” he predicted. But, he then added: “I don’t think this means that variants will not continue coming, and I don’t think this means we should be able to live our lives without having vaccinations.”
Bourla specified that annual vaccine boosters would likely be needed going forward.
Bourla went on to explain that the virus was so widespread that it would likely be able to continue to mutate and become an ongoing enemy. “The most likely scenario for me—because the virus is spread all over the world—is we will continue seeing new variants that are coming out, and also we will have vaccines that will last at least a year,” he said.
Going forward, the pharmaceutical CEO said he believed COVID-19 boosters might factor into the yearly rotation of shots most people get. “I think the most likely scenario is annual re-vaccination,” he predicted. “But we don’t know, really. We need to wait and see the data.”
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The CEO of Moderna also believes that the pandemic will be over for good “in a year.”
Bourla’s prediction aligns with that of his peer Stéphane Bancel, CEO of biotechnology company and vaccine manufacturer Moderna. In a Sept. 23 interview with Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, Bancel said that significant changes in production capabilities meant that companies could address the lag in global vaccine equity much more quickly in the coming months, Reuters reports. When asked about how long it would take for the pandemic to end and for life to return to normal as a result of this development, he replied: “As of today, in a year, I assume.”
Bancel explained that even with vaccine hesitancy in some areas, the pandemic would likely slow down as more of the public gets exposed to the virus. “Those who do not get vaccinated will immunize themselves naturally, because the Delta variant is so contagious. In this way, we will end up in a situation similar to that of the flu,” he predicted.
But while natural immunity might help slow down the spread of COVID eventually, the Moderna CEO advised those who had access to shots to get them for their own safety. “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 the hospital,” he cautioned.
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Bourla also hinted that children’s vaccines could be coming very soon.
During the interview, Bourla also mentioned another significant development that might help bring the pandemic to heel. According to the CEO, pediatric trials showed that a smaller dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was found to be safe and effective in children between the ages of five and 11, paving the way for them to seek approval for its use.
“I think we’re going to submit this data pretty soon. It’s a question of days, not weeks,” Bourla said. “Then it is up to the [Food and Drug Administration] FDA to be able to review the data and come to their conclusions and approve it or not. If they approve it, we will be ready with our manufacturing to provide this new formulation of the vaccine.”
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