Pfizer Inc. said it expects about US$15 billion in revenue this year from the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech SE, a sign of returns to come from the industry’s pandemic response efforts.

The vaccine projection primarily includes doses that are expected to be delivered this year under existing contracts, Pfizer said Tuesday as it reported fourth-quarter earnings, and it may be adjusted as more contracts are reached.

Pfizer is commanding a higher price for its vaccine than some rivals. Under the terms of its supply deal with the U.S., it is charging US$19.50 for each shot of the two-dose regimen. Rival AstraZeneca Plc, which hasn’t yet gained authorization for its two-dose vaccine in the U.S., has said it plans to charge less than US$4 per shot.

Excluding its vaccine sales, Pfizer said it expects 2021 full-year revenue of US$44.4 billion to US$46.4 billion. Annual earnings per share will be US$3.10 to US$3.20. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla had said earlier this month that earnings would top out at US$3.10 a share. The guidance was raised primarily because of its shifting vaccine forecast, according to the company.

Pfizer fell as much as 4.3 per cent as of 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday in New York.

Vaccine Sales

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, based on new technology called messenger RNA, was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms in a late-stage clinical trial. Cleared for emergency use in the U.S., U.K. and European Union in December, it brought in US$154 million in sales in the fourth quarter.

Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech initially expected to produce 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine, known BNT162b2, this year. They later boosted their output goal to 2 billion doses after a label change allowed doctors to extract six doses instead of five from each vial, and they secured additional manufacturing capacity. The boon to supply will likely add to the companies’ sales.

To date, Pfizer and BioNTech have reached agreements totaling 836 million doses, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker, including 300 million for the EU and 200 million for the U.S. Pfizer remains in discussions with governments around the world regarding new deals and exercising additional options, Bourla said last week in an interview.

Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat expects Pfizer to ultimately bring in more vaccine sales than it forecast Tuesday. “I do think the number is going to tick up,” he said in an interview. “They’re baking in 800 million or so doses, but they’re going to allocate additional doses to the emerging markets.”

The drugmaker may generate additional revenue from a booster shot it’s developing to combat a rapidly spreading variant that emerged in South Africa, according to Raffat. Clearance for a booster aimed at the mutant could come before the end of the year, he said.


The drug giant’s overall fourth-quarter figures were anticipated to be messy following the spinoff of its off-patent drug unit, Upjohn, into a combined company with Mylan NV now known as Viatris Inc.

The new, slimmed-down Pfizer brought in US$11.7 billion. Major blockbusters, including the cancer drug Ibrance, the anticoagulant Eliquis, and the Prevnar vaccine franchise drove much of the company’s growth.

Pfizer spent more than US$9 billion on research and development, including on its pandemic response efforts, in 2020. Bourla cited the company’s “decade-long conversion into a pure-play, science and innovation-focused company,” for the company’s progress.

“Our record-breaking success at developing a vaccine against COVID-19, along with our partner BioNTech, is just one example of what we believe this new Pfizer is capable of achieving,” he said in the statement.