Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday the U.S. government has ordered enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to cover every child in the country, as a Centers for Disease Control panel meets to decide whether to recommend authorization of the shots for kids ages 5 to 11.
“The U.S. government has placed orders with us that basically covers every kid in this country. So, the supply will be there and hopefully a lot of kids will benefit from it,” Bourla said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.”
Pfizer vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday. On Tuesday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was reviewing data before deciding on whether to recommend the shots for children in that age group. The committee’s recommendation could impact CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky’s decision to clear the vaccines for distribution.
Kids could begin receiving their shots Tuesday evening if Walensky acts quickly on the panel’s expected recommendation. The CDC approved Pfizer vaccines for kids aged 12-15 in May, just hours after the advisory committee recommended the shots for that age cohort.
Parents sending their young children back to school and day care facilities have been experiencing anxiety because they are vaccinated and their children aren’t, Bourla said.
Children have accounted for 16.6% of Covid cases in the U.S., but have remained in the low single-digit percentile of Covid hospitalizations in the 24 states reporting, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to CDC data, 652 children in the U.S. have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to Covid-19 is uncommon among children,” the AAP website reads. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on … ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children.”
Kids in the 5-11 age group will receive a smaller dose of the mRNA-based vaccines than adults, Bourla said, and kids under 5 will receive an even smaller dose. Trials are still underway for children under the age of 5, but Bourla said he expects the Covid vaccine for that age group could obtain authorization in early 2022.
Pfizer is working on a Covid antiviral pill similar to the one being developed by pharmaceutical rival Merck and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Internal data at Merck shows the company’s treatment reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid by 50% in high-risk patients.
Bourla wished Merck good luck in obtaining regulatory clearance, saying the world needs additional treatment options. He noted Pfizer currently has three studies underway to test its Covid treatment.
“Our studies are ongoing, and we expect that we will have a readout on the efficacy likely before the end of the year,” Bourla said.
“If the studies are positive and have high efficacy, we already approved an investment of a billion dollars in late summer and already are manufacturing at risk,” he said. “We will have quantities even this year, if we are successful.”
Bourla’s comments came after Pfizer posted stronger-than-expected quarterly reports earlier in the day. The company also raised its full-year sales guidance on its Covid vaccine by 7.5%.
In its earnings conference call, Bourla said Pfizer has the capacity to make 4 billion vaccine doses next year and already has orders for 1.7 billion doses. Bourla said he hopes lower-income countries will place orders because the company will charge them much less than middle and higher-income countries.
Pfizer shares rose more than 4% on Tuesday.