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Omicron vaccine will be ready soon, Pfizer CEO says

Will there be an omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine?

Syringes of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
Syringes containing the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are prepared at the Central Vaccination Center in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. Pfizer said it will soon have an omicron vaccine ready for approval.
Sakchai Lalit, Associated Press

A COVID-19 vaccine specifically made to target the omicron variant could be released as soon as March, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said.

What’s happening: Bourla said Monday in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that a new omicron vaccine could come soon.

  • “This vaccine will be ready in March,” he said. “We (are) already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk.”
  • The vaccine will target other COVID-19 variants circulating in the public right now.

However: “He said it is still not clear whether or not an omicron vaccine is needed or how it would be used, but Pfizer will have some doses ready since some countries want it ready as soon as possible,” CNBC reports.

What he’s saying: “The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalizations and the severe disease — it is reasonable right now, with the current vaccines as long as you are having let’s say the third dose,” Bourla said.

Counterpoint: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser on the coronavirus, said that there’s no need for an omicron-specific variant, as I reported for the Deseret News.

  • “Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron,” Fauci said. “At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster.”

Flashback: Pfizer and Moderna said they planned to develop omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shots to fight off the variant. They said the vaccines wouldn’t be available until early 2022.

Why this matters: The omicron-specific vaccine is a potential fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot for Americans. There’s an intense debate right now about whether or not people need a fourth vaccination shot.