Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Sales Crash as Company Reports Drop in Revenue

Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Sales Crash as Company Reports Drop in Revenue
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla gestures during a session at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Pfizer’s revenue dropped in the first quarter of 2023 primarily due to flagging COVID-19 vaccine sales.

The company reported $18.3 billion in revenue, down from $25.6 billion in the first quarter of 2022. Pfizer made just $7.1 billion from its COVID-19 vaccines and the COVID-19 pill after reaping more than $56 billion from the products in 2022.

The drop in COVID-19 product sales was expected, company officials said.

As Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was expected to tell investors in an earnings call: “Our financial results were as we anticipated. Our non-COVID revenues grew 5 percent operationally compared with the year-ago quarter, while overall revenues declined 26 percent operationally primarily due to a previously communicated and expected decline in Comirnaty revenues.”

Pfizer and other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have been dealing with decreased demand amid plunging effectiveness and lower levels of COVID-19 in various countries. The company said in its 2022 report that it could not “accurately predict the impact of COVID-19 on our business” and that various factors could affect sales, including an inability to report clinical trial results for its updated COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer expects 65 million COVID-19 doses to be administered in 2023, down from 92 million in 2022. But the company projects an increase to 67 million in 2024. And if a planned combination COVID-19/influenza shot works out, officials project the administration of 77 million doses in 2025 and 98 million doses in 2026.

“In terms of our COVID products—Comirnaty and Paxlovid—we expect sales to trend more seasonally in 2023,” Dr. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, planned to tell investors. “Given these dynamics, we expect significantly lower sales contributions from our COVID products in the second quarter versus the first quarter.”

Pfizer officials, however, predict that sales will pick up if U.S. regulators follow through on plans to update the vaccine strains to target the variants in circulation.

Current plans involve picking the strain or strains to target in the spring or summer and rolling out updated shots each year during the fall, similar to how influenza vaccines are distributed in some countries.

The market for both the vaccines and Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, are shifting from largely government-driven to commercial this year as governments stop buying or slow down the purchasing of COVID-19 products from companies like Pfizer.

“We continue to expect 2023 to be a transition year as the virus continues to mutate and we move from advance purchases under government contracts to more traditional supply arrangements in a commercial model for both Comirnaty and Paxlovid in the U.S,” Bourla’s prepared remarks stated.

The company expects to make $67–71 billion in 2023. It made $100.3 billion in 2022.

Moderna, Pfizer’s chief rival for COVID-19 vaccines, is slated to report its first-quarter results on May 4. Moderna reported $5.1 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, and expects declining sales in 2023.
Novavax, another COVID-19 vaccine maker, is at risk of shutting down due to uncertainty around its revenue in 2023, while Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is also authorized in the United States but has been deemphasized due to its link to a deadly blood-clotting condition.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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