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Users of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may need third shot to effect immunity

The chief medical officer of BioNTech has said that people will likely need a third shot of its two-dose Covid-19 vaccine as immunity against the virus wanes, agreeing with previous comments made by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Ozlem Tureci, co-founder and CMO of BioNTech, which developed a Covid vaccine with Pfizer, said she also expects people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually, like for the seasonal flu, according to CNBC.

That’s because, she said, scientists expect vaccine-induced immunity against the virus will decrease over time.

“We see indications for this also in the induced, but also the natural immune response against SARS-COV-2,” Tureci said in an interview.

“We see this waning of immune responses also in people who were just infected and therefore [it’s] also expected with the vaccines,” she said.

Tureci’s comments come after Bourla said in an interview that aired April 15 that people will likely need a booster shot, or third dose, of the Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. He also said it’s possible people will need to get additional shots each year.

Pfizer said earlier this month that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91 percent effective at protecting against the virus and more than 95 percent effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to remain highly effective at six months.

Researchers say they still don’t know how long protection against the virus lasts after six months of being fully vaccinated, though public health officials and health experts expect protection to wane after some time.

Should Americans require booster shots, the US government would likely need to make arrangements with the drugmakers to supply additional doses and make plans for vaccine distribution.

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