Sunday, September 5, 2021

Covid-19 vaccines: the contracts, prices and profits. August 11, 2021

Raised charges and Covax deals on order books of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca

Wed 11 Aug 2021 12.58 EDT

Two US companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have raised the prices of their Covid-19 vaccines after data from clinical trials showed their mRNA formula was more effective than cheaper vaccines from Britain’s AstraZeneca and the American drugs maker Johnson & Johnson.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have pledged to provide their doses on a not-for-profit basis until the pandemic ends.


Sales worth $11.3bn (£8bn) were made by Pfizer in the first half of this year from the Covid-19 jab that it developed with Germany’s BioNTech. In July it lifted its 2021 sales forecast to $33.5bn.

BioNTech expects to make revenues of nearly €16bn (£13.5bn) from the vaccine this year, as its first-half net profit jumped to almost €4bn from €142m a year earlier. 

The two firms have agreed to supply up to 1.8bn doses to the EU from December up to 2023, on top of 600m doses previously ordered this year. The US government has ordered 700m up to April next year for Americans, as well as 500m for donations to the poorest nations.

Pfizer and BioNTech are aiming to produce 3bn jabs this year and 4bn next year. They are now charging the EU €19.50 per jab, up from €15.50 in the first procurement deal, the Financial Times reported. The UK is also reportedly paying more than previously, about £22 a shot for 35m doses for next year’s autumn booster campaign.

Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Bourla, recently explained the tiered pricing. “This means wealthier nations would pay about the cost of a takeaway meal for each dose … middle-income countries would pay roughly half that price … and to low-income countries we were offering them doses at cost.”


This company generated nearly $6bn of sales from its Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of the year, achieving a $4bn net profit – the first half-year profit since the firm was founded in Massachusetts in 2010.

Moderna has signed $20bn worth of vaccine contracts this year, including that for 17m doses to the UK, 460m to the EU and 500m to the US. It expects to produce up to 1bn jabs this year, followed by 2bn-3bn in 2022.

It has charged the US government (which helped fund the development of the vaccine) up to $16.50 a dose, and has sold it for $22 to $37 outside the US. Last week the company also said that sales under the Covax vaccine initiative to low-income countries were “considerably lower than the price to the US government”. The firm has reportedly lifted the price it charges the EU to $25.50 a dose from about $19 in its first deal.


Revenue of $1.2bn was achieved by AstraZeneca from the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford in the first half of the year. So far it has shipped 1bn doses globally and is aiming to produce a total of 2bn-3bn jabs this year. The UK government is in negotiations with AstraZeneca to order a new version of its vaccine adapted to tackle variants of the coronavirus. Results from clinical trials are expected later this year.

The AstraZeneca jab is the cheapest of the main Covid-19 vaccines, priced at just $2.15 a dose in the company’s contract with the EU, rising to just over $5 a shot elsewhere.

However, the EU has not ordered any more doses after the vaccine was linked with rare blood clots. AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said last month that “at some point in the future” the company would raise its prices, adding: “We cannot be a non-profit forever, but we will never intend to make large profits.”


Denmark has ordered 280,000 doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine for $5.8m – roughly $20.90 per dose – as part of an EU deal with the US company. The European Commission said last week it would buy up to 200m doses of the vaccine, which is yet to be approved by the EU’s drugs regulator.


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