At 21 billion, the corona vaccine would account for more than a third of the total turnover of the Viagra manufacturer. “We believe there will continue to be sustainable demand for our covid-19 vaccine,” said CEO Albert Bourla on Tuesday afternoon at the presentation of Pfizer’s quarterly results.
Bourla recently said that in the future people will likely need a third dose of the now renamed ‘Comirnaty’ vaccine once protection from the drug begins to wane.
After that, some would need a new shot every year, by analogy with the flu shot, which could allow Pfizer and BioNTech to benefit from their vaccine for years to come. Moderna previously predicted to earn 15 billion euros this year from its corona vaccine.
While competitors AstraZeneca and Janssen take blow after blow from thrombosis, injection breaks and manufacturing perils, Pfizer and Moderna are thriving with their more expensive messenger RNA-based vaccines.
Where in the vector vaccines from AstraZeneca and Janssen a harmless cold virus serves as a carrier, or ‘vector’, with the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna a fat globule containing the genetic code of the corona virus disappears in the veins.
Competition issues prompted Pfizer to accelerate vaccine deliveries to the United States and Europe last month.
At the same time, the US government announced an eventual eleven-day injection break with the Janssen vaccines, following a few reports of blood clots and low platelet counts.
Meanwhile, various media have reported in recent weeks that the European Commission does not want to extend contracts with AstraZeneca and Janssen mother Johnson & Johnson until after 2021.
In the meantime, Pfizer and BioNTech, who share their corona profits together, think they can deliver 3 billion vaccine doses this year, BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin announced on Tuesday. At the end of last year, the companies still expected 1.3 billion doses.
If Pfizer and BioNTech do indeed reach 3 billion, the turnover could well exceed 21 billion euros, because that forecast assumes a production of 1.6 billion doses. An extra boost is that BioNTech is working on a new version of the vaccine that will keep for six months in the refrigerator, and therefore no longer need to be stored at minus 70 degrees, Şahin announced Tuesday.
And so Moderna and Pfizer seem to have finally won the competition. At least, in the countries rich enough to afford their vaccines.
The European Union would be on the cusp of ordering 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer vaccine by 2022 and the following year, representing the largest vaccine order to date, among others. Reuters, Bloomberg and the New York Times the last weeks.
There is now an (even) more impressive price tag on Comirnaty. Until now, the vaccine cost the European member states 15.50 euros per dose, in the new contract Pfizer and BioNTech would catch 19.50 euros.
Although this is much less than the requested 54 euros per dose with which Pfizer and BioNTech gave the European Commission a roll stroke last summer, it still represents a price increase of more than 25 percent.
At 19.50 euros per dose, Cominarty is more than ten times more expensive than the AstraZeneca vaccine (1.78 euros per dose) and also well over the Janssen vaccine (7 to 10 euros), of which only one dose is required.
Pfizer’s prosperity also arouses unease in some. How much can a company earn from a vaccine that BioNTech was able to develop thanks to 375 million euros in German tax money? Not to mention years of pioneering research by the US taxpayer-funded National Institutes of Health, without whom the mRNA technique would not have been possible.
In addition, unlike AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech refuse to share the patent on their corona vaccine, which would give countries like India and South Africa a chance to produce cheaper versions for the rest of the world.
Pfizer is now in talks with India, severely affected by the corona virus, to get its vaccine approved more quickly. The pharmaceutical company also donates around 58 million euros in medicines to the country, such as blood thinners, antibiotics and steroids to reduce infections, Pfizer CEO Bourla wrote in a letter shared on LinkedIn to his Indian employees.
Bourla says it regrets that the Pfizer vaccine is not yet available in India, now that more than three thousand people die from the corona virus every day. According to Bourla, Pfizer filed for months ago to get its vaccine approved in India.