Effective protection against the fast-spreading coronavirus could require a vaccination plan like the one in place for the seasonal flu shot.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky during an appearance on CNBC Tuesday said that for the next several years at least, people may need to get their COVID shots on an annual basis. His comments came just after the New Jersey-based company revealed that it applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine.

Unlike the the Pfizer/BioNTech and Astrazenca treatments, both of which require two doses given several weeks apart, the J&J vaccine requires only one jab. While the single-dose treatment is anticipated to ease strain placed on inoculation initiatives, Gorsky warned that the virus will continue to mutate, placing a unique challenge on drugmakers and medical experts.

“Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate,” he told CNBC.

“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 off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”

Public health officials have previously warned COVID-19 is likely to remain long-term. They suspect that it will however become an endemic disease, meaning the virus will stay present across communities at all times but at lower levels than it is now.

In a report last month, Johnson & Johnson revealed its single-shot treatment had a 66% rate of preventing infections during its massive trial. It also warned that the treatment is even less effective at protecting against one variant of the virus, which first emerged in South Africa.

Gorsky told CNBC the company was “extremely confident” that it will meet its target to deliver 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the United States by the end of June. He noted that Johnson & Johnson is still working to develop a two-dose coronavirus vaccine as well.


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