Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, is not alarmed by the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and reveals what he thinks about the way Israel is handling the crisis.
In an interview with the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, Bourla said of the new South African variant, "We still do not know whether Omicron can evade the protection afforded by the vaccine. What we do know is that our current vaccine is very effective when performed as required - a series of two injections followed by a booster dose for those aged 18 and over."
"I believe that the best option at the moment against the spread of the Omicron variant and any other new variant that could develop is that all people who are eligible for the vaccine will be fully vaccinated with three doses, as recommended."
"We are continuing to work at a high pace and updating our vaccine versions against the previous variants, Beta and Delta, which were identified earlier this year. These studies will form the basis for updating the current vaccine to suit any future variant of concern, if we need it," he stated.
Bourla added that if it is found that the third vaccine does not protect against Omicron or other future variants, Pfizer can develop and produce a tailored vaccine within a hundred days, subject to regulatory approval.
Asked if he could tell parents who are currently apprehensive that the vaccine is 100 percent safe, Bourla replied, "In biology and medicine there is nothing that is 100 percent certain. But I can tell parents that I'm 100 percent sure they should give it to their children, because the risks are much much much lower than the risk from COVID. There is no competition at all."
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is very proud of his personal relationship with Bourla. On his relationship with the new Prime Minister, Natali Bennett, Bourla said, "He does call me, even if not in the middle of the night. My relationship with Netanyahu was excellent. There are two aspects here. The first is my aspect as CEO of a company, but also as a Jew who works with the leadership of the country I love, to do the best for its people. A country that all Jews feel is our safe haven. I will do this over and over again, no matter who the Prime Minister is."
"But of course I've developed a personal connection because when people call and you talk to them about these issues and you see their effort to do the right thing for their people - you connect with them. And that was a big part of the personal connection I developed. But for me, no matter who the Prime Minister is, I will do what I can for Israel," he stressed.
Some argue that Israel is the world's experimental laboratory in the field of vaccines. Bourla stated that "Israel is a beacon of hope in this pandemic. A country that demonstrated to the world at a very, very early stage that we can do this, that we can change the course of the disease."
"When in March, three months after the vaccinations began and a year after the pandemic was announced, Israel returned to normal and the public could go out and make a living thanks to the vaccine, it was a picture that was published in every newspaper in the world - in Asia, Latin America, Europe. Everywhere. It created hope: We too want to be liberated like Israel. Therefore, the name of Israel will remain forever as a ray of hope in the history of the pandemic."