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Pfizer anticipates manufacturing 4 billion doses of its vaccine next year. Photo: Chet Strange/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer expects revenue from the COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed by BioNTech, will reach $33.5 billion this year — a 29% jump from the previously estimated $26 billion.

Why it matters: This vaccine, which has dramatically slowed the coronavirus pandemic, is on pace to be the world's top-selling drug of all time, by far. And now Pfizer is pushing for people to get a third "booster" shot of its vaccine to combat the growing Delta variant.

By the numbers: Pfizer registered $7.8 billion of COVID-19 vaccine sales in the second quarter, bringing total worldwide sales so far this year to $11.3 billion.

  • Pfizer expects to deliver 2.1 billion doses this year and has the capacity to manufacture 4 billion doses next year, CEO Albert Bourla said on a conference call.
  • The U.S. previously paid $19.50 per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but Pfizer recently raised the price to the government to $24 per dose.
  • Flashback: Last year, Bourla said the company would not put a "huge price" on the vaccine, "because that's really taking advantage of a situation, and people will not forget if you do that."

Driving the news: Pfizer said it has new data showing a third dose of its vaccine increases antibody levels significantly against the Delta variant.

  • Pfizer has a financial interest in people, especially Americans, getting a third dose, as it would grow revenues even more.
  • However, epidemiologists have pointed out that higher antibody levels do not mean higher protection, and Pfizer's two-dose schedule is already effective against the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.

The big picture: A majority of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has gone to wealthy countries, whose governments pay higher prices for drugs than lower-income countries.

  • Many lower-income countries have started demanding more doses as their coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise.
  • "Africa was largely spared by the pandemic in 2020, but not this year. We lack vaccines, and we are gasping for air," Mosoka Fallah, former director-general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, said this week.

What to watch: Moderna reports vaccine sales and earnings Aug. 5.

  • Johnson & Johnson said it expects its COVID-19 vaccine will generate $2.5 billion of sales this year.

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says. 

United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Photo: James D. Morgan via Getty Images

United Airlines said Wednesday that over 97% of its U.S.-based employees are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a company memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: United announced in August that it would require its 67,000 U.S.-based employees to get vaccinated by Sept. 27 or face termination. It's one of several airlines that set vaccine requirements even before President Biden issued his own vaccine mandate for employers with over 100 workers.