The CEO of Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that people may need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 annually for the next several years — similar to seasonal flu shots.
“Unfortunately, as (the virus) spreads it can also mutate,” Alex Gorsky said in an interview on CNBC.
“Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine,” he added.
Public health officials have previously warned that the coronavirus is likely here to stay.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said COVID-19 may become “endemic,” meaning it will be constantly part of communities.
“I doubt we’re going to eradicate this,” Fauci said at a virtual health conference last week. “I think we need to plan that this is something we may need to maintain control over chronically.”
Gorsky’s comments, meanwhile, came after Johnson & Johnson last week asked the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
The drugmaker says its shot is 66 percent effective at preventing moderate-to-severe disease.
The J&J vaccine would add a vital third option — along with Pfizer and Moderna shots — as the US struggles to distribute vaccines against the virus.
However, the J&J version has proved less effective against a more aggressive strain of the virus found in South Africa, the report said.
That strain, as well as a variant identified in the UK, has been detected in the US.