Pfizer predicts huge revenue increase from COVID-19 vaccine sales, opposes suspension of any patent rights

May 5, 2021: Pfizer significantly increased revenue projections from its Covid-19 vaccine for the year, as the vaccine sales in the first three months of 2021 lifted the company to a stronger quarterly profit. The vaccine contributed US$3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2021. Over the course of the full year, Pfizer now expects the vaccine to generate US$26 billion in sales, up from an earlier forecast of $15 billion.

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in a Dow Jones interview that the South African and Indian proposal to suspend patent rights for COVID-19 related products "doesn't make sense" because doing so wouldn't result in more doses. Dictating the sharing of patents would discourage biotech companies from developing products for the next pandemic, he said.

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine sales in 2021 might exceed the new US$26 billion forecast, which reflects the 1.6 billion doses that the company is under contract to deliver. That is an average cost of US$16.25 per dose. Pfizer and BioNTech say they can manufacture up to 2.5 billion doses this year and at least three billion next year.

Pfizer said it is selling the vaccine at lower prices or at cost to low- and middle-income countries, and that about one-third of the doses this year will be for poorer countries. But it is clear that high -income countries are first in the queue and that while companies like Phizer control the process, it will be several years before vaccines are available to the majority in low-income countries. Last month South Africa called out Phizer for demanding unreasonable contract terms, including for sovereign assets to be sold to pay for any claims for compensation for adverse effects from the vaccine.

A WTO dialogue held on April 14, 2021, did identify untapped vaccine production potential in the developing world, according to the WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi. A dialogue on the proposed waiver of patent rights for COVID-19, held at the WTO on April 30, 2021, has produced no outcome.