Praised for preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths and allowing a return to a more normal life, Covid vaccines will also substantially benefit some pharmaceutical companies.
In June, analysts estimated that the global market for vaccines could be worth $ 70bn (£ 50bn) this year, but the figure could be even higher as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads and Scientists debate whether people will need booster shots.
On Thursday Moderna, which received funding from the US government to develop its vaccine, will reveal how much it earned in the second quarter. He forecast 2021 revenue of $ 19.2 billion from the vaccine in May, but that estimate could rise this week.
With the American company Pfizer, it will take most of the global profits from the Covid vaccine. The firms are charging more than $ 30 per person for the two injections required in Europe and the United States, while Britain’s largest pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and America’s Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have pledged to provide theirs on a non-profit basis. until the pandemic ends.
New York-based Pfizer made $ 11.3 billion in the first half of this year from the Covid coup it developed with Germany’s BioNTech, and last week raised its 2021 sales forecast to $ 33.5. billion from $ 26 billion. The two companies have adjusted their mRNA vaccine to target the Delta variant and will begin testing it in humans this month.
Pfizer’s total sales increased 86% in the second quarter, but only increased 10% when sales of the Covid vaccine were eliminated. Morningstar analyst Damien Conover said sales growth would slow over the next 12 months as demand for vaccines shifted to emerging markets where prices were lower: “In the long term, we hope … sales of about $ 2 billion annually based on booster injections for the elderly and immunocompromised. There is a potential advantage if increased demand for boosters arises or new variant vaccines are developed. “
The vaccine has also transformed the fortunes of Moderna, a Massachusetts biotech company founded in 2010, which made its first quarterly profit on $ 1.7 billion in revenue in the first three months of the year.
The commercial success of the two companies contrasts with the nonprofit route taken by AstraZeneca and J&J, which are selling their jabs for much less (AstraZeneca charges between $ 4.30 and $ 10 for two doses, while J&J has charged the government of US $ 10 per dose for your single shot vaccine).
Still, the jab developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca generated $ 1.2 billion for the drug company in the first half of the year.
One of the first vaccines approved globally, it is now shipped worldwide: sales were almost evenly split between Europe and emerging economies in the first half.
Despite leading the world in vaccine production, the US has exported few vaccines. While there is no formal export ban, Washington has used a wartime power known as the Defense Production Act to require companies to fulfill their orders before anyone else.
However, in June US President Joe Biden announced that the US would donate 500 million Pfizer vaccines to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union, to “advance the global fight against the pandemic.” As part of that commitment, nearly 5.7 million doses of Pfizer are expected to arrive in South Africa this week, with 4 million to go to Nigeria.
Only 14.4% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated; 28% have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 4.07 billion doses administered worldwide. Only 1.1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
AstraZeneca has suffered many setbacks, including supply problems that led to a court battle with the European Commission and a link to rare blood clots (although a new study last week indicated that its vaccine safety profile is similar to that of the Pfizer vaccine). It has postponed its application for regulatory approval in the US until the second half of the year because, it said, it took time to gather the large data sets required by the US regulator.
The EU will not order any more vaccines from AstraZeneca, and the disappointment has begun. It is known to be considering “all options” for the vaccine business, including a possible sale later this year.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism