J&J CEO says people will need Covid vaccine with annual flu shot for next several years as variants spread

Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson Alex Gorsky speaks during an event at the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky reiterated Wednesday that people will likely need to receive additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccines alongside the annual flu shot for the next “several years.”

People will need to get the Covid booster shots until herd immunity is achieved on a global level and world leaders and scientists are able to limit the spread of highly contagious variants, Gorsky said during The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Health conference.

“We could be looking at this tagging along with the flu shot, likely over the next several years,” he said, referring to the Covid vaccines.

CNBC Health & Science

His comments come a day after U.S. health officials urged Americans to get vaccinated to keep the Delta variant, first identified in India, from proliferating across the country.

J&J’s vaccine requires just one jab, unlike Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines, which currently require two doses given three to four weeks apart. All three vaccines have been shown to be highly effective against Covid, though executives now say they expect that strong protection to wane over time.

As a result, most drugmakers and some scientists now say people will likely need a booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccines and possibly additional shots each year, just like for the seasonal flu.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin told CNBC in a recent interview that researchers are seeing a decline in antibody responses against the virus after eight months.

Gorksy has previously stated that people will likely need to get Covid shots annually.

During the WSJ event Wednesday, Gorsky said the company is looking for new partners as it develops vaccines that target variants.

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