Pfizer made $3.5bn from Covid-19 vaccine sales in the first quarter and boosted its full-year expectations for revenue from the jabs to $26bn from $15bn as it reported its quarterly earnings on Tuesday.

The US pharmaceutical company, which splits its Covid vaccine profits with its development partner BioNTech, raised its overall full-year revenue guidance to up to $72.5bn from $61.4bn, mainly due to contracts signed for the delivery of 1.6bn doses in 2021.

Total first-quarter earnings rose to $14.6bn, a 45 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2020 and beating analysts’ forecasts of $13.7bn.

Reported diluted earnings per share hit 86 cents, and earnings from the vaccine came from sales in more than 50 countries, said chief executive Albert Bourla.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way Pfizer has started 2021,” Bourla said, in prepared remarks. “We continued to accelerate production and shipments of our Covid-19 vaccine — in many cases exceeding our contractual obligations for delivery timelines.”

As of May 3, 430m doses of the Covid vaccine have been shipped to 91 countries. Pfizer plans to apply for full FDA approval of its coronavirus vaccine at the end of May, and US regulators are expected to authorise its use in adolescents aged 12-15 in the coming days.

Bourla said he expects “durable demand” for the Covid-19 vaccine, similar to flu vaccines. Data from trials of a booster vaccine targeting the variant first detected in South Africa are expected in early July, he said.

Data was submitted to the FDA on Friday showing that the mRNA vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator for 4 weeks, making it easier for vaccination sites without freezers to keep the jab, Bourla added.

The company is also working on a new formulation that could be stored in a refrigerator for up to 10 weeks. Data for the new formulation is expected in August.

Pfizer’s share price rose 1.6 per cent in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

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