COVID-19 vaccine boosters could mean billions for drugmakersSaturday, September 25, 2021
(AP)---Billions more in profits are at stake for some vaccine makers as the US moves toward dispensing COVID-19 booster shots to shore up Americans' protection against the virus.
The Biden administration last month announced plans to give boosters to nearly everybody. But US regulators have rejected the across-the-board approach. Still, the crisis is constantly evolving, and some top US health officials expect boosters will be more broadly authorized in the coming weeks or months. And that, plus continued growth in initial vaccinations, could mean a huge gain in sales and profits for Pfizer and Moderna in particular.
The average forecast among analysts for Moderna's 2022 revenue has jumped 35% since President Joe Biden laid out his booster plan in mid-August.
Morningstar analyst Karen Andersen expects boosters alone to bring in about $26 billion in global sales next year for Pfizer and BioNTech and around $14 billion for Moderna if they are endorsed for nearly all Americans.
Andersen expects Moderna, which has no other products on the market, to generate a roughly $13 billion profit next year from all COVID-19 vaccine sales if boosters are broadly authorized.
J&J and Europe's AstraZeneca have said they don't intend to profit from their COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.
Drugmakers aren't the only businesses that could see a windfall from delivering boosters. Drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens could bring in more than $800 million each in revenue, according to Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager with Gabelli Funds.
Drugmakers are also developing COVID-19 shots that target certain variants of the virus, and say people might need annual shots like the ones they receive for the flu. All of that could make the vaccines a major recurring source of revenue.
The COVID-19 vaccines have already done much better than their predecessors.
Pfizer said in July it expects revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine to reach $33.5 billion this year, an estimate that could change depending on the impact of boosters or the possible expansion of shots to elementary school children.
That would be more than five times the $5.8 billion racked up last year by the world's most lucrative vaccine — Pfizer's Prevnar13, which protects against pneumococcal disease.
It also would dwarf the $19.8 billion brought in last year by AbbVie's rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira, widely regarded as the world's top-selling drug.