Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Pfizer was first to market in the U.S. with its BioNTech partnered Covid-19 vaccine, and by and large, it’s avoided the safety and supply concerns affecting a number of its pandemic peers. Now, to hear CEO Albert Bourla tell it, it’s increasingly possible the 2021 revenue boon will stay for years to come.
Patients will “likely” require a third dose of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as the shot’s protection declines, CEO Albert Bourla disclosed in a recent interview with CVS Health Live. And after receiving a third shot, people should expect re-vaccination every year, he noted.
That could boost sales for Pfizer in the short term, and turn its mRNA-based vaccine Comirnaty into a revenue spring for years to come.
Certain shots, like the polio vaccine or Pfizer’s own pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar, offer lasting protection at a single dose. Then there are “vaccines like flu that you need every year,” Bourla disclosed. “The COVID virus looks more like the influenza virus than the poliovirus.”
The company recently released data showing its BioNTech-partnered mRNA vaccine was 91.3% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 for up to six months in patients who had received their second dose. In another major win for the partners, Comirnaty proved potent against the notoriously tough-to-tackle variant that first showed up in South Africa.
Protection remains high during that half-year stretch, but it does “go down by time,” Bourla admitted during the interview. “There will be a need, based on this data, for re-vaccinations,” he noted, adding that the specific timing of those boosters, and how frequently they might need to happen, remains unclear.
“There will be likely a need for a third dose somewhere between six and 12 months, and then from there, there will be an annual re-vaccination,” he said.
Meanwhile, the exact role those boosters play will be determined by variants.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla disclosed.
Estimates in late January forecasted approximately $6.05 billion in Comirnaty sales for 2021. The team predicted that number would reduce to $2.08 billion in 2022 and $1.08 billion by 2025 – but with the likelihood of yearly inoculations on the horizon, Pfizer may be considering strong sales beyond 2021’s gung-ho vaccination push.