Bourla previously projected that a fourth shot might be needed 12 months after the third dose. However, he announced on Wednesday that the Omicron variant could accelerate the timeline for a fourth dose.
“With Omicron we need to wait and see because we have very little information. We may need it faster,” Bourla told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“When we see real-world data, will determine if the Omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long,” Bourla added. “And the second point, I think we will need a fourth dose.”
On Tuesday, the Pfizer CEO said he was concerned about how fast the Omicron variant is spreading.
“I don’t think it’s good news to have something that spreads fast,” Bourla told the Wall Street Journal. “Spreads fast means it will be in billions of people and another mutation may come. You don’t want that.”Bourla said he expects the number of Omicron cases to balloon from dozens to millions over the next few weeks.
A study in Japan found that the Omicron variant is 4.2 times more transmissible than Delta, Bloomberg reported.
“We will have a good understanding, let’s say before the year end, as to what exactly it means for clinical manifestation,” Bourla said.
He said that Pfizer could develop a vaccine that targets Omicron by March 2022, but the pharmaceutical giant is still determining whether the current vaccines provide protection against the newest variant.