Pfizer CEO says COVID-19 vaccine-resistant variant likely to emerge

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla talks during a press conference with European Commission President after a visit to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at the factory of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, in Puurs, on April 23, 202

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Tuesday said the company believes a COVID-19 vaccine-resistant variant will likely one day emerge, though the company has a system in place to turn around a variant-specific jab within some three months.

"Every time that the variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it," Bourla told FOX News’ America’s Newsroom cohosts. "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."

Bourla noted a company process to develop a variant-specific vaccine within 95 days from identifying the variant of concern. Infectious disease experts and public health officials have reiterated for months that broadening the reach of the existing vaccines across the population, in the U.S. and abroad, will reduce the opportunity for the virus to further mutate.

CDC data indicates 62.5% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 73.1% receiving at least one dose. While federal health officials look to rollout COVID-19 booster shots among most Americans come September, pending FDA review, the head of the World Health Organization on Monday called for a two-month moratorium on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines as a means of reducing global vaccine inequality and preventing the emergence of new coronavirus variants.

Nevertheless, full FDA approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot on Monday was widely anticipated to boost confidence in the vaccine and accelerate the country’s vaccination rate. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, reacted to the full FDA approval on Tuesday, telling TODAY show co-hosts that survey results indicated some 30% of unvaccinated individuals reluctant to receive shots would seriously consider vaccination following full FDA approval of vaccine. He also anticipated "much more enthusiasm" in vaccine mandates across corporations, universities and the military, while also noting that Pfizer can now advertise the shot given the full approval.

However, Bourla told FOX News on Tuesday that the company is not prioritizing marketing of vaccines to ease vaccine hesitancy, but is instead focused on increasing vaccine supply to meet global demand and keeping up with emerging variants.

"I don't think right now for us it's a priority to do anything different than what we do," Bourla said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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