Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine sales to trail Pfizer's total significantly in 2021 and 2022
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines to prevent Covid-19 are often considered equals in many respects. Both have shown strong protection from the virus, with limited side effects or safety concerns among the hundreds of millions who have now received them.
But in its second quarter earnings call Thursday, Moderna revealed how the two are diverging when it comes to vaccine sales, as Moderna’s expectations for 2021 total about $20 billion, based on the expected manufacture of between 800 million and 1 billion doses. Pfizer said last week it expects about $33 billion in 2021 Covid vaccine sales on 2.1 billion doses, although that amount may increase to about 3 billion doses.
The quick start for Pfizer may even out a little more, but not by much: In 2022, Moderna says it already has signed contracts for about $12 billion in vaccine sales, with options for $8 billion more, and the manufacturing capacity to make between 2 and 3 billion doses next year. By contrast, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company is ready to make about 4 billion doses in 2022, although the Big Pharma has yet to project any 2022 sales figures, a spokesperson confirmed.
In terms of vaccine dose pricing, both companies have seen increases in the US, and the EU, even as they both offer less expensive versions of their vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.
Pfizer’s vaccine price rose from $19.50 per dose to about $24 per dose in this latest US government purchase of 200 million doses.
Moderna said Thursday its US government price has risen slightly from about $15 per dose (for the first 100 million doses) to $16.50 each (for the next 400 million doses), which takes into consideration the government funds via BARDA to underwrite the firm’s Phase III trial for the vaccine. Higher income ex-US countries start with a price range of $32 to $37 per dose, Moderna added. But sometimes there are discounts based on volume, or for lower- and middle-income countries, including sales to COVAX, which Moderna said are priced significantly cheaper than doses for the US government.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are also developing their Covid-19 vaccine booster strategies, even as the CDC and FDA have said such boosters are not necessary yet, and as the WHO calls on developed countries to not provide boosters until at least the end of September.
Moderna president Stephen Hoge said on the earnings call the company believes boosters will be needed before winter, particularly due to the Delta variant. Clinical data appear to support a 50 μg of the Moderna vaccine booster, the company said, although it will wait for 100 μg data coming in the next several weeks to confirm the selection of 50 μg as a booster dose before filing for EUA.
Pfizer said it expects a booster shot EUA filing as early as this month: “Pending regulatory approval, we also plan to start an immunogenicity and safety study in August to evaluate an updated version of our vaccine specifically designed to target the Delta variant,” Pfizer CSO Mikael Dolsten said last week on its earnings call.
Moderna also said in its Q&A at the end of its earnings call it may jump further into the space of gene editing. As an innovator in the worlds of lipid nanoparticles and mRNA, Hoge said that “it’s the right time for us to expand in that direction,” pointing to gene editing.
“On the gene editing question, we do have, as you know, programs that target the liver. But as we’ve presented at previous science days and even today, we have a platform technology that also we think allows us to get in broadly into the immune system and particularly hematopoietic stem cells. And so what you’ll — where we imagine our strong suit to be is in delivering nucleic acid technologies to those areas. Of course, as we look to expanding in gene editing, You’ll see us look to those technologies that we’ve got the most experience with first and then bringing a range of different payloads to — into our capabilities,” Hoge said.