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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
34 mins ago - Technology

Meet your doctor's AI assistant

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the doctor's office, with new models that can transcribe, analyze and even offer predictions based on written notes and conversations between physicians and their patients.

Why it matters: AI models can increasingly be trained on what we tell our doctors, now that they're starting to understand our written notes and even our conversations. That will open up new possibilities for care — and new concerns about privacy.

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.