Bourla said that Pfizer are able to formulate a new vaccine within 90 days of any new variants appearing.
The far right news site The Epoch Times recently (August 24) published an article with the headline "Pfizer CEO Predicts Vaccine-Resistant COVID-19 Variant Likely to Emerge." The article misses vital context on the statement, which was made by the Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in an interview with Fox News. While Bourla said that it is likely that a new strand could emerge at some point in time that would be resistant to the current COVID-19 vaccines available. However, he added that his team are in a position where they can develop a new vaccine for every new potential variant of concern that may appear.
Speaking to Fox News on August 24., Bourla said "Every time a variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their heads around it. They are working to see if this variant is resistant against the vaccine. We haven't identified any yet. It is likely that one day, one of them will emerge, and we have built a process that within 90 days, after a variant is identified as a variant of concern, we will be able to have a vaccine tailor made against this variant."
In February 2021, Bourla made a similar statement to Forbes. While discussing mutations of COVID-19, Bourla said, "It is not certain but It is likely that a new strand could appear that could be resistant to the current vaccines [...] now you can very quickly develop a new vaccine that can either add to current immunity or offer immunity against a completely new mutation."
It is also important to note that mutations should be expected, and are not indicative of a virus becoming more dangerous, or of vaccines becoming ineffective. A paper for Nature Macrobiology states that "[mutations] can inform our understanding of emerging outbreaks. Any claims over the consequences of mutation demand careful experimental and epidemiological evidence. Mutation is an inevitable consequence of being a virus."
The recent interview with Fox News ran alongside the announcement that the Pfizer vaccine has been given full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the 23 August 2021. The Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy rate of approximately 91 percent.
Taken alone, the statement from Bourla could be misinterpreted to imply that vaccines are ineffective, or that a new, vaccine resistant COVID-19 mutation is imminent. With additional information, it is clear that the research and resources are available to quickly develop a new vaccine if such a scenario takes place. As such, we have marked this claim as misleading.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.