Pfizer bets on COVID-19 vaccine demand for years, sees sales of $26 billion in 2021 By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man receives a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the hall three of the Belgrade Fair, in Belgrade, Serbia, April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

By Manas Mishra and Michael Erman

(Reuters) -Pfizer Inc on Tuesday raised its forecast for 2021 COVID-19 vaccine sales by more than 70% to $26 billion and said demand from governments around the world trying to halt the pandemic could contribute to its growth for years to come.

Revenue from the vaccine – developed with German partner BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:) – is expected to account for more than one third of Pfizer (NYSE:)’s full-year sales this year.

The forecast is based on already signed contracts for 1.6 billion vaccine doses to be delivered this year. The company said it expects to sign more deals for this year and is in supply talks with several countries for 2022 and beyond.

“Based on what we’ve seen, we believe that a durable demand for our COVID-19 vaccine – similar to that of the flu vaccines – is a likely outcome,” Chief Executive Albert Bourla said.

The two-shot vaccine was Pfizer’s top-selling product in the first quarter. Expenses and profit from the vaccine are split 50-50 between Pfizer and BioNTech.

Given persistent infections globally and ongoing discussions with governments, Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan said the 2021 forecast could increase further and also spill over to latter years.

Pfizer and BioNTech aim to produce up to 2.5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, 900 million of which are not yet included in the New York-based drugmaker’s sales forecast.

If Pfizer sells that number of doses at similar prices, the vaccine’s sales in 2021 could be more than 50% above the projected $26 billion.

Moderna (NASDAQ:) In has forecast $18.4 billion in 2021 sales of its similar COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer has said it expects to profit from the vaccine, while some drugmakers including Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:) have said their vaccine will be sold on a not-for-profit basis until the end of the pandemic.

Pfizer aims to manufacture at least 3 billion doses of the vaccine next year. It generated $3.5 billion in revenue in the first quarter, exceeding analysts’ estimates of $3.28 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue for the quarter of $14.6 billion, topped analyst forecasts of $13.5 billion.

Pfizer could use the vaccine profit to invest in research and development of other treatments and on deals to spur future growth, said Edward Jones analyst Ashtyn Evans.

The company already said it is boosting R&D spending to fuel drug discovery using the messenger RNA technology in the COVID-19 vaccine. The company is developing two flu vaccines that are expected to enter clinical trials in the third quarter.

Pfizer shares were about flat in early trading.

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