Pfizer raises 2021 Covid-19 vaccine sales forecast to US$33.5b

Pfizer/BioNTech say they could update their vaccine if needed. — AFP pic
Pfizer/BioNTech say they could update their vaccine if needed. — AFP pic

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NEW YORK, July 28 — Pfizer Inc today raised its full-year sales forecast for the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech by 29 per cent to US$33.5 billion (RM141.9 billion), as nations stock up on doses for the rest of the year.

The company also said it could apply for an emergency use authorisation for a potential booster dose as early as August, reiterating that a third shot will likely be needed to enhance protection amid a resurgence in infections in many countries.

New early data showed that a third dose generated virus-neutralising antibodies more than 5 times higher in younger people and more than 11 times higher in older people than from two doses, Pfizer said.

Pfizer shares were up 2 per cent at US$42.98 in morning trading.

The drugmaker, whose shot was authorised in the United States, Europe and other regions around the world in December of 2020, has won new orders as rivals such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have faced manufacturing and safety hurdles.

Pfizer also competes with US mRNA vaccine maker Moderna Inc, which has not been able to scale up production as quickly as its much larger rival.

“Worldwide demand for vaccines against the virus is expected to continue and the generally positive attitude towards Pfizer’s vaccine ... puts the company in a strong position to benefit going forward,” said analyst Samuel Indyk.

The updated sales forecast is based on signed deals for 2.1 billion doses. The forecast could be raised again if Pfizer signs additional contracts.

J&J last week estimated full-year Covid-19 vaccine sales of US$2.5 billion, while Moderna has forecast US$19.2 billion.

Pfizer said it has shipped 1 billion doses of the vaccine since December. The companies have a production target of around 3 billion doses this year.

The production ramp-up is subject to expansion at current facilities, adding new suppliers and contract manufacturers, the company said. Pfizer records most of the combined sales from the vaccine, and splits expenses and profit 50-50 with its German partner.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan next month to test a version of the vaccine specifically designed to take on the fast-spreading Delta variant, with the first batch already manufactured, Pfizer said. The more easily transmissible variant now accounts for more than 80 per cent of new US Covid-19 cases and has also become dominant in many other countries.

Pfizer raised its estimates for overall full-year profit, with strong sales of blood thinner Eliquis, which it shares with Bristol Myers Squibb, and cancer drug Ibrance.

The vaccine is helping drive a large part of the company’s forecast, but Pfizer’s base business is also growing, said Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan.

Pfizer now expects full-year adjusted profit of US$3.95 to US$4.05 per share, up from its prior forecast of US$3.55 to US$3.65. — Reuters

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