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Pfizer earned $3.5 billion on COVID-19 vaccine in first quarter

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine earned the company $3.5 billion in the first three months of this year, representing nearly a quarter of its total revenue, the company announced ahead of its earnings call Tuesday.

The drug giant said it expects the vaccine to earn about $26 billion in total revenue for 2021, based on signed contracts as of mid-April that call for 1.6 billion doses of the shot to be delivered this year. 

The company’s previous forecast was $15 billion for the year, but its first-quarter 2021 revenues alone totaled $14.6 billion, an increase of $4.5 billion, or 45 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Unlike several other rival companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer did not use federal funds and said it planned to make a profit. Democratic lawmakers and drug pricing advocates have raised concerns about Pfizer’s decision, arguing it could lead to price gouging after the initial pandemic period.

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca both decided to sell their vaccines on a nonprofit basis during the pandemic. Moderna developed its vaccine with significant help from the federal government, but with no other products on the market decided to sell its vaccine at a profit.

Pfizer expects to have the capacity to manufacture at least 2.5 billion doses in 2021 and then an additional 3 billion doses in 2022, CEO Albert Bourla said in prepared remarks shared ahead of the call.

“Based on what we’ve seen, we believe that a durable demand for our COVID-19 vaccine  similar to that of the flu vaccines  is a likely outcome,” Bourla said.

Pfizer said it plans to file for full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the end of this month. The company also said it expects to apply for emergency use authorization for a booster shot that could protect against COVID-19 variants during the second half of July.

The New York Times reported Monday the FDA is poised to authorize Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for adolescents ages 12-15 by early next week. And the company said it expects to have definitive trial results and plans to apply for authorization in September to use the vaccine in children between 2-5 years of age and 5-11 years of age.

As of Monday, Pfizer, along with its partner BioNTech, has shipped approximately 430 million doses of the vaccine to 91 countries and territories around the world, according to Bourla.

But the vast majority of the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer have been reserved by wealthy nations. Even as the company has pledged to supply millions of doses to the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative, critics have been calling on Pfizer to do more.

Bourla said the company is committed to global availability of its COVID-19 vaccine. 

“It is our hope that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will continue to have a global impact by helping to get the devastating pandemic under control and helping economies around the world not only open — but stay open — creating a scenario in which Pfizer can continue to be both a leader and a beneficiary,” Bourla said.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines FDA FDA approval prescription drug prices prescription drugs
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