Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that his company is preparing to tackle new COVID-19 variants, and that he expects the company’s treatment pill will be effective in helping avoid severe illness or possibly death if one get infected.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Omicron poses a “very high” global risk, with the likelihood it is more transmissible than previous strains. The new variant has nearly three dozen mutations that reportedly decrease antibody protection.
WHO described Omicron as a “highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations ... some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility."
“We are prepared to tackle a variant like Omicron,” Bourla stated. “From studies of the Beta and Delta variants, we established an approach to develop and produce variant versions of our vaccine in (less than) 100 days, if needed, and subject to regulatory approval.
Bourla added: “Still, we believe the best hedge against the spread of the Omicron variant and any new variant that may emerge is getting all eligible people fully vaccinated and boosted, as recommended.
Earlier in November, Pfizer submitted its application to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its pill, “Paxlovid,” for emergency use, citing an 89 percent efficacy rate in reducing hospitalization and death.
Bourla also touted that the pharmaceutical company increased its expected capacity by 30 percent, and that the Biden administration has already purchased 10 million courses of Paxlovid treatments from Pfizer.
“If authorized, we’re confident our oral antiviral therapy can help reduce the severity of illness, and we now anticipate we can deliver 80 million treatment courses, up from our original estimate of 50 million,” Bourla said. “Going forward, we will continue to follow the science in our ongoing fight.”
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