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Pfizer CEO predicts a vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant

Pfizer has a process to develop variant-specific vaccines just 95 days after identification of the variant, CEO Albert Bourla said.

Updated: August 24, 2021 - 9:34pm

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that there will likely be a COVID-19 variant that is resistant to the vaccine, but that his company would be able to get a variant-specific shot out in about three months.

"Every time that the variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it," Bourla said on Fox News' America's Newsroom. "They are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine. We haven't identified any yet but we believe that it is likely that one day, one of them will emerge."

Pfizer has a process that would take 95 days to develop a variant-specific vaccine from the identification of the variant, Bourla said.

In February, Bourla told Fortune that a vaccine-resistant variant was possible.

"Theoretically, it's a very possible scenario. If you protect a very big part of the population, and if there is a strain that emerges that can use this pool of population to replicate while the current strains cannot, obviously this will overtake the original. So it's not a certainty, but it is now, I believe, a likely scenario," he said.

The day of Bourla's interview with Fox News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that found COVID-19 vaccines dropped from 91% effectiveness before the Delta variant to 66% effectiveness during the peak of the variant. The study included 4,217 participants who were fully vaccinated, with 65% having received the Pfizer vaccine, 33% Moderna, and 2% Johnson&Johnson.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 16 and up a day before Bourla's remarks, which is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized beyond the stage of emergency use only.

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