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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tests positive for COVID-19, has mild symptoms

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The top executive at Pfizer, a leading producer of COVID-19 vaccines, has tested positive for the virus and says he is experiencing very mild symptoms.

Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said Monday that he started taking Pfizer's Paxlovid pill treatment and is isolating while he recovers.

Bourla has received four shots of Comirnaty, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the New York drugmaker along with German biotechnology company BioNTech. Bourla is confident he will recover quickly, he said in a company-issued statement.

"I am incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of my Pfizer colleagues who worked to make vaccines and treatments available for me and people around the world," he added. 

More than 128 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated with Pfizer's two-shot vaccine since it entered the market more than a year ago. Nearly 61 million people in the U.S. have received a third booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientists say the vaccine continues to offer substantial protection against hospitalization and serious illness, even as new strains of the virus emerge. The evolving nature of the virus has made it a challenge for vaccine makers to develop inoculations that provide protection against new variants. 

CDC relaxes its COVID-19 guidelines 04:38

Pfizer and vaccine maker Moderna, which also makes a two-shot mRNA vaccine, are updating their drug formulas to provide protection against newer versions of the virus as part of a fall booster campaign.

Paxlovid, a pill that is available by prescription after infection, helps patients avoid serious illness when it is administered shortly after the onset of symptoms.

Last month, when President Biden contracted COVID-19, he announced that he took Paxlovid to treat his symptoms. 

Comirnaty and Paxlovid are the top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment on the market. Combined, they brought in nearly $17 billion in sales for Pfizer during the recently completed second quarter.

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