Pfizer expects higher COVID-19 vaccine prices and yearly boosters, CFO says. And that means big sales long-term

Pfizer made headlines last month when its chief financial officer said the company would look to raise COVID-19 vaccine prices after the pandemic wanes. The company is doubling down on that stance, and it now believes annual vaccinations are "increasingly likely."

Add those two things together, and you get a hefty long-term revenue stream.

During a recent virtual investor conference (PDF) hosted by Barclays, Pfizer Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio said the company sees “significant opportunity” for its COVID-19 vaccine once the market shifts from a “pandemic situation to an endemic situation.”

Right now, the market is “clearly not being driven by what I'll call normal market conditions,” D'Amelio explained to Barclays analyst Carter Gould during the virtual event. Instead, it’s “been driven by kind of the pandemic state that we've been in and the needs of governments to really secure doses from the various vaccine suppliers.”

Eventually, Pfizer expects “normal market forces … will start to kick in,” D’Amelio said.

At that point “factors like efficacy, booster ability, clinical utility will basically become very important, and we view that as, quite frankly, a significant opportunity for our vaccine from a demand perspective, from a pricing perspective, given the clinical profile of our vaccine,” D’Amelio told the analyst.  

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Plus, Pfizer believes there will be demand for shots even after the current crisis. Citing variant concerns, Pfizer believes it’s "increasingly likely that an annual revaccination is going to take place” and that those revaccinations will be needed “for the foreseeable future,” the CFO said.

Pfizer has said it expects $15 billion in revenue from the mRNA vaccine this year, and that number could grow as the company negotiates new supply deals. At the Barclays event, D’Amelio said his company expects “return after taxes” of around 25% on the $15 billion figure, or around $3.75 billion. The CFO previously said he expects margins for the vaccine to grow over time.  

On the manufacturing front, Pfizer and BioNTech have made several upgrades to their supply chains and now plan to produce 2 billion doses this year. The company is “working to improve upon that number as well,” D’Amelio said.

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In the wake of AstraZeneca’s recent supply shortfalls in Europe, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to deliver 200 million doses there in the second quarter. Pfizer also expects to ship 300 million doses to the U.S. during the first half of the year.

Aside from its COVID-19 vaccine work, Pfizer sees an opportunity to improve on current flu vaccines with mRNA technology as well as to grow the market with a higher efficacy product, D’Amelio said at the event.