Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have all made or are expected to make billions from the sale of the COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year. (Related: Big money for Big Pharma: World Bank to inject more money into Big Pharma's accounts.)
The biggest winners are Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. These two corporations got a headstart over their competitors in the creation of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials were the first to supposedly receive positive results. Because of this, its vaccine was the first to get emergency use authorizations from drug regulatory bodies in the United States and the European Union.
Because of their headstart, Pfizer and BioNTech were able to make the most money from selling COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer alone raked in over $10.8 billion in the first half of 2021 alone. The company has already raised its outlook for the rest of the year. It expects to make at least $33.5 billion in vaccine sales before 2022.
On Tuesday, Aug. 10, BioNTech reported making $7.3 billion during the first half of 2021. The company expects full-year revenues from the COVID-19 vaccines to be about 15.9 billion euros ($18.6 billion). This is a significant increase from its previous forecast of 12.4 billion euros ($14.5 billion).
This forecast would push BioNTech into the ranks of the world's top 20 drugmakers by revenue this year. BioNTech recently announced that it had signed contracts to supply nations with 2.2 billion doses of the vaccine for delivery by the end of the year, and at least another billion doses for 2022 and beyond.
Company co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin also recently announced that it and Pfizer have delivered at least one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna reported making $5.9 billion in the first six months of the year. It expects to make over $20 billion by the end of 2021 in revenues.
The COVID-19 vaccines developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biotech company AstraZeneca and American megacorporation Johnson & Johnson were approved for emergency use at a later time than their competitors. Because of this, their profits from the COVID-19 vaccines trail far behind those made by the first three mentioned pharmaceutical companies.
AstraZeneca's potential profits were also stymied when it made a pledge earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic that it would sell its vaccines at a cheaper price.
Johnson & Johnson made a similar pledge. Its profits were also hurt by the fact that it only requires one dose rather than two like those of its competitors. This is reflected in its revenues.
AstraZeneca generated around $1.2 billion in sales of its COVID-19 vaccines during the first half of the year. Johnson & Johnson reported making only $264 million in sales, but it expects to make up to $2.5 billion by the end of the year. AstraZeneca has not made a similar full-year estimate.
Pharmaceutical corporations like the ones mentioned are expected to continue making billions of dollars from the sale of COVID-19 vaccine doses. They are also expected to make even more money from the sale of booster doses. These companies are already itching to begin producing booster doses because they understand how much money they can make from them.
Moderna said it hopes to produce a booster dose that could act as both a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine. The company wants to do this even though the two viruses are very different and do not mutate in the same way.
The booster doses are unlikely to come soon. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already called for a moratorium on the sale of vaccine booster doses until at least the end of September. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world should focus on meeting the agency's goal of vaccinating at least 10 percent of the world's population first.
The federal government has also so far held off on promoting the use of booster COVID-19 vaccine doses. It said additional vaccine doses are not needed right now. But this has not stopped pharmaceutical companies from lobbying for booster doses to be given.
"The companies are leading the narrative that we need boosters annually, that we have no tolerance for any COVID infection, and we want to make sure we protect against any kind of future variants," said Geoff Meacham, a senior biotechnology and pharmaceutical analyst for Bank of America.
Learn more about how companies like Pfizer and Moderna are profiting off the pandemic by reading the latest articles at BigPharmaNews.com.