ABBVIE Stock- Vaccine Sales Lift Pfizer’s Quarterly Results
raised this year’s sales forecast for its Covid-19 vaccine to about $26 billion, a 73% increase that reflects the shot’s growing role in a long-term global vaccination campaign.
World-wide demand for Covid-19 vaccines will remain in force for at least several years as people seek to maintain protection as the virus circulates, Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said Tuesday on an earnings conference call with analysts. Booster shots likely will be needed some time at least six months after being vaccinated, and then annually going forward, Mr. Bourla said.
Demand for vaccines still may accelerate, given that the push to get shots in the arms of people around the world is shaping up as a yearslong process with plenty of challenges, especially in poorer countries, Mr. Bourla said. While the U.S. has vaccinated more than 40% of its adult population, much of the rest of the world is still in the early phases of vaccinations.
The surge of coronavirus infections in developing countries such as India amid a relative scarcity of vaccine supply means that the pandemic will continue until mid-2022, according to Uğur Şahin, chief executive of
Demand for vaccinations has shown signs of leveling off in the U.S., health officials say. CVS Health Co. said Tuesday that demand for Covid-19 vaccinations has fallen by about 30% recently as Americans’ hesitancy to receive the shots outweighs expanding eligibility and access.
The Biden administration said it would begin reallocating some Covid-19 vaccine doses to states with higher demand for shots and directing pharmacies to offer walk-in vaccinations, as the president aims to get 70% of the adult population at least one dose by July 4.
Pfizer said Tuesday it is working on making the two-dose shot easier for vaccinators to administer and store. It also has begun studying an updated version of the vaccine for the dangerous variant first identified in South Africa.
The Pfizer vaccine is the most-administered of the three Covid-19 vaccines cleared for use in the U.S. and increasingly is available around the world. Pfizer raised its vaccine sales forecast from $15 billion earlier this year as more countries sign supply agreements amid the global vaccination effort.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way Pfizer has started 2021,” Mr. Bourla told analysts.
The two-dose shot contributed $3.5 billion to the company’s $14.6 billion overall sales during the first three months of the year, Pfizer said.
Mr. Bourla said in an interview that while testing is ongoing, people probably will receive a booster shot of the original vaccine, as opposed to the variant-targeting one Pfizer said it has begun testing. He said that is because variants haven’t been shown to circumvent the vaccine.
“It doesn’t seem like we need it, but we are testing it just in case,” he said of the updated vaccine. Pfizer expects initial study results in July.
Pfizer and BioNTech have shipped more than 430 million doses to more than 90 countries. These and other countries already are lining up for more Pfizer supplies beyond 2021, Pfizer said. The company said it has entered into agreements with Israel to supply millions of doses next year and with Canada to supply up to 125 million doses in 2022 and 2023.
The rise of Covid-19 cases in India and elsewhere has led to calls for the suspension of intellectual-property restrictions on vaccines to help spur additional production. Mr. Bourla said in the interview that such requests “don’t make sense” because doing so wouldn’t result in more doses. “It is so wrong.”
The limited number of doses reflects the fact that before the pandemic, there weren’t any approved products using the new gene-based mRNA technology in the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine, he said. It is a production gap that Pfizer has been working to close since the pandemic began. “There’s no one that could do more within a year, starting from scratch,” he said of Pfizer. Dictating the sharing of patents would discourage biotech companies from developing products for the next pandemic, he said.
To help get doses to the rest of the world, Pfizer said it is selling the vaccine at lower prices or at cost to low- and middle-income countries. Many of these countries expressed interest only recently, and about one-third of the doses this year will be for poorer countries, he said. The supply in the developed and developing world will be more balanced by the end of the year, Mr. Bourla said in the interview.
The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine isn’t authorized in India. The country’s government asked Pfizer to do additional studies locally after the drugmaker filed for regulatory approval months ago, Mr. Bourla said on the analyst call. Pfizer wasn’t prepared to comply at the time, given that it was devoting its resources to studying variants and whether the vaccine worked in children. Mr. Bourla said he hopes India will change its study requirement, “so that we can provide the vaccines.”
Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine sales in 2021 still could exceed the $26 billion forecast, which reflects the 1.6 billion doses that the company is under contract to deliver. Pfizer and BioNTech say they can manufacture up to 2.5 billion doses this year and at least three billion next year.
Should the forecasted vaccine sales materialize, the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine would rank as one of the all-time bestselling pharmaceutical products. The world’s top-selling prescription drug in recent years has been
anti-inflammatory drug Humira, which sold nearly $20 billion in 2018.
Pfizer said it would ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month for full-approval of the Covid-19 vaccine for use in people 16 years and older, which would allow the company to market the vaccine directly to the public. The FDA authorized the shot in December on an emergency basis, citing the urgency of the pandemic and the company’s need to collect at least six months of data on subjects from its 44,000-person pivotal study.
Pfizer said it expects in July initial results of a study evaluating whether it is advisable to give people a third dose of the vaccine. The company said it plans later that month to seek emergency authorization of the additional dose.
Pfizer said it is working on ways to make the vaccine more accessible and easier to handle, and expects to ask the U.S. to approve in August a “ready to use” format that would eliminate the need to mix the vaccine with diluent. The change would make it possible to store the vaccine at warmer temperatures, which could help small and rural vaccination sites.
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