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Albert Bourla of Pfizer is the CEO of CNN Business of the Year

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But Bourla was our choice for everything Pfizer has done in a year when vaccines against Covid became widespread (it was even called the vaccine). word of the year of Merriam-Webster) and helped stabilize the American economy, as well as the world economy.

“Pfizer did very well [for] humanity and we’re very, very proud of it, “Bourla said in an interview with CNN Business.” Not only were we able to save so many lives … but we’re enjoying high levels of corporate reputation right now. People like us. “

Hoping to pass the Covid pill in early 2022

Pfizer is not the only company that has developed a vaccine. But the leader of Big Pharma, even more so than its European partner BioNTech (BNTX) or a rival vaccine developer Modern (MRNA), has become synonymous with the fight against Covid.
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was the first approved in the United States for children ages 5 to 11. But many parents of even younger children are now waiting to know when a vaccine could be approved for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
An 8-year-old boy receives his first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Beaumont Health offices in Southfield, Michigan on November 5, 2021.

Bourla said he understands the frustration of parents who are fully vaccinated but unable to protect their younger children.

“We are working very hard on this to make sure we can provide a solution to that,” Bourla said.

Pfizer says final data on Covid-19 treatment pills is strong against hospitalization and death

“We are looking at different doses, well below those that have been used [for adults and older kids.] We know it will be safe. What we are looking for is whether this will protect them by giving the lowest dose, “he added.

But Pfizer announced after an interview with CNN Business that it is still evaluating whether three smaller doses of its vaccine will be effective for children under 5 after finding two child-sized doses. does not produce the expected immunity in children from 2 to 5 years.
In addition, Pfizer has developed a pill which could drastically reduce the risk of serious complications, hospitalization and death of people who contract the virus. He The Food and Drug Administration has been announced following his interview with Bourla approved Pfizer Paxlovid oral treatment.

But Bourla told CNN Business that the pill should not be a substitute for the vaccine.

Ready to launch a specific Omicron vaccine if needed

The recent rise of the Omicron variant has raised worldwide concerns about the effectiveness of current vaccines. But Bourla told CNN Business he believes his vaccine and that of BioNTech will control Omicron “pretty well,” especially if people have received two doses and reinforcement.

He acknowledged, however, that Pfizer may need to launch a new vaccine to specifically target Omicron or any other future variant. Bourla said Pfizer is already developing a feature aimed at Omicron and believes it could be tested and submitted to regulators for approval in March.

If Pfizer is to produce specific Omicron features, this will not slow down the production of the existing vaccine, Bourla said.

A Covid-19 vaccine freezer farm at the Pfizer Kalamazoo manufacturing site on February 19, 2021 in Portage, Michigan.

“We are aiming for four billion [dose] annual manufacturing capacity of our current vaccine. And if we have to switch between the two, the old and the new, we will still make four billion. We don’t expect to lose any volume, “he said.

Bourla also acknowledged that there are cynics who question whether Pfizer is just trying to make as much money as possible with the vaccine.

After all, Pfizer said in its latest earnings statement in November that it generated $ 13 billion in revenue from the vaccine in the third quarter and now expects revenue of $ 36 billion for the full year.

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine vials during a vaccination event at Manning High School in Manning, South Carolina, on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Bourla told CNN Business that it is charging the poorest and least developed countries for the vaccine than the richest countries. But cost is not the only challenge. He said some countries, such as those in remote parts of Africa, “lack basic infrastructure”.

“They don’t have centers to vaccinate people, especially in remote places. They don’t have enough nurses,” he said. “Sometimes they lack syringes, sometimes they lack refrigerators so they can store the vaccine. So, unfortunately, that’s the situation.”

Bourla is confident that the World Health Organization and the Gavi public-private vaccine alliance can help solve some of these problems. He also said the company is further investigating the delivery of drones to ensure people get the vaccine faster.

“We are doing our best to be on the right [side] of history, “he said.

Bourla also went on to stress that the vaccine is safe and that the only way for life to return to normal is for people to leave.

“I don’t see any reason why next year won’t be a normal year if we do the simple things we have available,” Bourla said. “If we have a very large number of people who don’t want to take a third dose or don’t want to get vaccinated at all, that’s a problem.”

More for Pfizer than the Covid vaccine

Pfizer and Bourla do not rest on their laurels.

The company has also been at the forefront of the development of many other promising drugs such as Eliquis blood thinner, Ibrance breast cancer treatment and Xeljanz rheumatoid arthritis pill, as well as the pneumonia vaccine family. Prevent.

Bourla is fully aware that for a pharmaceutical company to be successful, it must have even more promising drugs in the process.

Several of Pfizer’s current bestsellers will lose patent protection in the coming years. Once they expire, this opens the door for the cheapest generic drugs to compete with them.

That’s a big reason why Pfizer announced plans for a nearly $ 7 billion deal in early December to acquire Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), a company that develops drugs to treat immunoinflammatory diseases. The acquisition came just one month after Pfizer completed a more than $ 2 billion purchase from cancer drug maker Trillium Therapeutics.

“It’s a challenge to do multiple tasks,” Bourla said. “But let’s not forget what else we’re working on. There are a lot of drugs for cancer, for other infectious diseases, for cardiovascular disease, for other diseases.”

“We’re very invested right now in cancer,” Bourla added. “The largest percentage of our R&D investment goes to oncology right now.”

Investors have rewarded Pfizer, which ironically was boot of the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2020 just a few months before approved the vaccine. Shares have risen nearly 65% ​​in 2021, more than any Dow value, and are not far from a record high.

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