Johnson & Johnson CEO: Annual COVID shots may be necessary in year's ahead

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People might need the coronavirus vaccine annually in years to come, much like the seasonal flu shot, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC on Tuesday.

What he's saying: "Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate," Gorsky said at an event. "Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend of antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine."

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  • The U.S. government purchased 100 million doses of the J&J vaccine last summer. “We will meet our commitments and at the same time we’re doing everything we possibly can to safely and effectively accelerate” production, Gorsky added Tuesday.

The big picture: J&J requested emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last week for its single-dose vaccine.

  • The company announced at the end of January that its vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials.

  • J&J’s vaccine, which results in development of neutralizing antibodies, is long-lasting and doesn’t require freezing like Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s shots, per Bloomberg. The vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for up to three months.

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