Pfizer says pandemic could extend into 2024

Pfizer Global President of Research and Development Mikael Dolsten (REUTERS / Neil Hall /)

Pfizer Inc forecast on Friday that the COVID-19 pandemic would not be left behind until 2024 and said a lower-dose version of its vaccine for children ages 2 to 4 generated a weaker-than-expected immune response, which could delay its authorization.

Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer, Mikael Dolsten, said in a presentation to investors that the company expects some regions to continue to see pandemic levels of COVID-19 cases over the next year or two. Other countries will become “endemic” with a low and manageable number of cases during that same period of time.

By 2024, the disease should be endemic worldwide, according to the company’s forecasts.

“Exactly when and how this happens will depend on the course of the disease, how well society deploys vaccines and treatments, and equitable distribution where vaccination rates are low,” said Dolsten. “The appearance of new variants could also affect the development of the pandemic ”.

Pfizer has developed its COVID-19 vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech, and currently expects it to generate $ 31 billion in revenue next year. It plans to make 4 billion vaccines next year.

The drugmaker also has an experimental antiviral pill called Paxlovid, which reduced hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk individuals by nearly 90% in a clinical trial.. Three analysts estimate sales of between $ 15 and $ 25 billion next year, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Pfizer’s forecast came after the appearance last month of the Omicron variant, which has more than 50 mutations compared to the original version of the virus. This has reduced the effectiveness of two doses of the vaccine against the infection and has raised concerns about its rapid spread throughout the world. Before the Omicron variant, America’s leading disease physician, Anthony Fauci, predicted that the pandemic would end in 2022 in the United States.

Vaccination with the Pfizer preparation this Tuesday in Colombo, Sri Lanka (EFE)
Vaccination with the Pfizer preparation this Tuesday in Colombo, Sri Lanka (EFE)


The Pfizer vaccine is licensed in the United States for people 5 years of age and older. But he said on Friday that he su study in children 2 to 4 years old given two 3-microgram doses of the vaccine – an amount 10 times less than that administered in adults (30 micrograms) and also less than that administered in children between 5 and 11 years (10 micrograms) – found that it did not create the same immune response as a higher dose of the vaccine in older children.

The 3-microgram dose did elicit a similar immune response in children 6 to 24 months of age, the company said.

The company reported that you will now try a three dose cycle in both age groups, as well as in older children. It had previously expected data for 2- to 4-year-olds this year, but said it did not expect the delay to significantly change plans for submitting emergency use authorization in the second quarter of 2022.

Pfizer and BioNTech have also been developing a version of their vaccine tailored to combat the fast-spreading Omicron variant., although they have not decided if it will be necessary. They expect to start a clinical trial for the updated vaccine in January, Pfizer executives said.

Variant-specific vaccines, if needed, could increase sales in 2022.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in more than 77 countries and has spread to about a third of North American states. The vaccine was about 95% effective in the adult clinical trial, but Pfizer has said that immunity wanes a few months after the second dose. Early data suggest that three doses of the vaccine may be necessary to protect against the Omicron variant.

With information from Reuters


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