COVID-19 vaccines will be here for the long-term, and could become part of the annual range of booster shots offered, leading vaccine makers predicted on Monday.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer are each working on new versions of their jabs geared towards tackling the Omicron variant, company bosses said.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Monday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said his company planned to offer a seasonal booster shot that would cover COVID-19 as well as other respiratory illnesses like flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
"Our goal is to be able to have a single annual booster so that we don't have compliance issues where people don't want to get two to three shots a winter, but they get one dose where they get a booster for corona, a booster for flu and RSV," Bancel said.
Asked when the COVID-flu-RSV booster could be available, he responded that "a best case scenario would be the fall of 2023".
But Bancel also suggested that the issue of vaccine inequality could continue, saying of the estimated 2023 introduction for the combined booster: "I don't think it will happen in every country".
'No more restrictions after Omicron'
Also on Monday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla suggested that the current wave of Omicron could be the last of the COVID-19 pandemic to require restrictions on work and social life.
"The most likely scenario is that the virus will continue to circulate for a number of years. It's a virus that has spread throughout the entire world and it's very difficult to get rid of it," he said.
"But I think that with the tools science has given us, this wave will be the last to bring with it these kinds of restrictions".
In comments to French broadcaster BFMTV, Bourla echoed Moderna boss Bancel's opinion that annual COVID-19 vaccinations would be a fact of life for years to come.
"For me, the important thing is to make three doses a complete vaccination, followed by an annual dose, except for immunocompromised people who could receive a booster every four months," he said.