The US drugmaker Pfizer has lifted its 2021 forecast for revenues from its Covid vaccine to $36bn (£26.3bn), after bumper sales in the third quarter.
The Covid jab, called Comirnaty and developed with Germany’s BioNTech, contributed $13bn of revenues in the three months to 30 September. That was more than half of Pfizer’s total revenues of $24bn in the quarter, which rose 134% from a year earlier. In the first six months of the year, Corminaty revenues were $11.3bn.
Pfizer raised its 2021 forecast for Corminaty sales from $33.5bn in July, as it expects to deliver 2.3bn doses this year. Together with BioNTech, it continues to expect to manufacture 3bn doses by the end of December, although not all of them will be delivered by then.
Together with the US biotech Moderna, Pfizer accounts for the lion’s share of the pharma industry’s global revenues from Covid vaccines. Moderna will report its Covid vaccine revenues on Thursday, followed by Pfizer’s partner BioNTech and Britain’s biggest drugmaker, AstraZeneca, next week.
Many western countries including the US, UK and Germany have started giving booster shots to elderly and vulnerable people. However, booster shots are controversial because in low-income countries only 3.7% of people have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. About 7.1bn doses have been administered globally, and nearly half the world’s population has received at least one jab.
Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Bourla, made a bold promise in June, saying that should the need arise for a new Covid vaccine, the company could develop one within 100 days.
He was referring to the possible emergence of an “escape variant” – a strain of Sars-CoV-2 that evades the immunity provided by current vaccines and previous infections.
Other companies, such as Moderna and AstraZeneca, are also preparing for the emergence of new strains by updating their current vaccines to match known variants such as delta, and testing them on these strains. These dress rehearsals are designed to even out kinks in the processes so the firms can move faster if an “escape variant” emerges for which current jabs do not work, Nature reported recently.
The jump in Covid vaccine revenues prompted Pfizer to lift its overall sales and earnings predictions. It now expects to make total revenues of up to $82bn this year, and underlying earnings a share of $4.13 to $4.18, compared with its previous forecast of $3.95 to $4.05.