Pfizer, BioNTech set for billions in yearly sales as fast COVID-19 vaccine launch looms: analysts

Pfizer building
Pfizer presented impressive interim results for its COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. (Tracy Staton)

Pfizer's early COVID-19 vaccine data have spurred intense hope about quashing the pandemic and lifted expectations for other vaccine programs in the works. And for the drug giant specifically, some analysts are predicting billions in sales for the shot for years to come.

In a note to clients Tuesday, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges said the results should “boost confidence of the general public in COVID vaccines, which should drive up the early adoption rate.” The analysts see Pfizer’s vaccine snagging all of the early share of the market and generating $258 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Next year, though, the analysts see the rollout really taking off. They’re projecting the shot will reel in $4.6 billion in 2021. Though expectations decline to $2.8 billion by 2023, Porges figures the vaccine will still be pulling in $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion in annual sales from 2026 through 2029. 

Early on in the vaccination process, Porges and his team expect the immunizations to be limited to healthcare workers and high-risk adults. Given the strong data, though, they increased their projections for the overall adoption rate for 2021 and 2022 by 4% to 5% and added a small percentage of pediatric vaccinations. 

As for other players in the vaccine race, the SVB Leerink team is largely keeping its market “share assumptions and timing" expectations in place. Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy suggests that there will be “fewer vaccine failures,” the analysts wrote, which “would reduce the addressable markets for COVID treatments.” 

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That last statement echoed a stance held by Barclays analysts, who wrote Monday that the Pfizer results “should raise further questions around the mid-to-long-term durability” of revenues from coronavirus therapeutics from companies such as Eli Lilly, Regeneron and Gilead Sciences. Gilead is already generating sizable revenues with Veklury, and Eli Lilly just won an FDA emergency authorization for one of its antibody therapies. 

On vaccines, though, higher usage earlier could ease the pandemic more quickly than previously expected, leading to a lower rate of revaccination down the line, Porges wrote.  

“If most COVID vaccines end up showing efficacy in the 80-90% range, they will likely compete for market share with lower unit price,” Porges wrote. The team’s overall revenue forecasts for the COVID-19 vaccine market start to decrease in 2025.

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Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are only advancing one out of many COVID-19 vaccines in the works, but on Monday, they said their leading candidate was more than 90% effective. Questions about the durability of protection, safety, and more remain.

Meanwhile, experts said the results bode well for another frontrunner, Moderna, and numerous other companies that are targeting the spike protein on the coronavirus.

In the wake of the results, Pfizer is expected to seek an emergency use authorization within weeks. The company said it could deliver 50 million doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion in 2021 if given authorization.