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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told "Axios on HBO" that it "will be terrible for society" if the price of coronavirus vaccines ever prohibits some people from taking them.

Why it matters: Widespread uptake of the vaccine — which might require annual booster shots — will reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread and mutate, but it's unclear who will pay for future shots or how much they'll cost.

The big picture: Pfizer is using a tiered pricing structure for its COVID vaccine, with higher-income companies paying more for each shot.

  • The U.S. government is purchasing the vaccine directly from the company at $19.50 per dose. Americans then receive their shots for free.
  • Bourla said this is a pandemic price, not necessarily a long-term one.
  • "We will see if we go to the open market, maybe [then] we see vaccine prices much more closer to the current vaccines that exist for flu or for other diseases with these high-end technologies," he said.

Yes, but: Bourla also said people will likely have to get regular coronavirus vaccine boosters, perhaps annually, for at least the next decade.

  • That means long-term affordability will be critical.
  • "It will be terrible for society if price becomes an obstacle. I think we should never a situation like that, particularly for a vaccine," he said.

What he's saying: Bourla said he'd advise a family member to get any vaccine they can right now. But in the future, when vaccines are no longer scarce, he said that people should be able to choose which one they get.

  • After the summer, "for boosters or for other situations, there will be enough vaccine so that you can go to free choice," he said.

What we're watching: Bourla said the company can make new versions of its vaccine in response to new virus variants in 116 days, if necessary.

  • Pfizer is also studying the effect of a potential third shot of the same vaccine, which may create an immune response strong enough to protect people even against the most aggressive variants.

Go deeper

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.
Kate Marino, author of Markets
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views of their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of canceled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.