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Annual COVID-19 jabs likely to boost immunity: Pfizer boss

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Annual vaccines to tackle COVID-19 will likely be needed to boost population immunity, the boss of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says.

Albert Bourla says the company is already working on a new jab for the Omicron variant.

“Based on everything I have seen so far, I would say that annual vaccinations … are likely to be needed to maintain a very robust and very high level of protection,” he told the BBC on Thursday.

It is not yet clear whether the vaccines will need to be tweaked every year for new variants, as happens with the annual flu jab.

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In October, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer jab for five to 11-year-olds.

Dr Bourla said immunising that age group in the UK and Europe would be a very good idea.

“COVID in schools is thriving,” he said.

“This is disturbing, significantly, the educational system, and there are kids that will have severe symptoms.

“So there is no doubt in my mind that the benefits, completely, are in favour of doing it.”

In the UK all adults will be offered a booster shot before the end of January amid growing concerns about the Omicron variant.

Trial data suggests booster doses are generally well tolerated and provide a substantial increase in vaccine-induced immune responses, in particular, and that mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna provide a strong booster effect.

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-PA

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