The Covid-19 vaccine could become a repeated effort as the virus keeps changing, says the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Currently vaccine manufactures are studying their Covid-19 vaccinations to see how they’re responding to new emerging variants of the virus.
Pfizer and BioNTech told Bloomberg they are developing booster vaccinations that protect against various mutations of the virus.
“Every time a new variant comes up, we should be able to test whether or not [our vaccine] is effective,” says Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla.
“Once we discover something that is not as effective, we will very, very quickly be able to produce a booster dose that will be a small variation to the current vaccine.”
Bloomfield says manufacturers will be looking at whether they need to make other alterations to the current vaccines to see if they still produce a similar response to the new variants of the virus.
He says it’s still early days to determine whether the vaccines need to be altered or not.
“What this does show is that similar to the influenza virus, we would expect this virus to keep changing and that suggests that over time it will be one that we need to do repeat vaccinations on and the vaccine will need to be updated.”
Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins says New Zealand is equipped to deal with any vaccine changes.
“Like with the flu jabs there are different versions of the flu jab. Our approval processes allow for that with any vaccination campaign you know you get new vaccinations."
Bourla says he believes the virus won’t be eradicated and people might have to get an annual Covid-19 vaccine that is developed to battle the circulating strain of the virus that year.
“We need to be very vigilant about the strains that exist and very vigilant about vaccinating people,” Bourla says.