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Pfizer expects to make 4 billion doses next year. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pfizer forecasts revenue from the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech will now reach $36 billion this year, up 7.5% from its previous estimate of $33.5 billion.

Why it matters: This vaccine has quickly become the highest-selling drug in the world, but public health experts and global leaders remain concerned about the vaccine's uneven distribution which has left poorer countries with far fewer doses to administer.

By the numbers: Pfizer registered $13 billion of actual COVID-19 sales in the third quarter, bringing year-to-date 2021 sales to $24.3 billion.

  • Pfizer said its profit margin on the vaccine, before taxes and after splitting profit with BioNTech, is the "high 20s," which means vaccine profits could approach $10 billion just for Pfizer this year.
  • Pfizer expects the vaccine will generate an additional $29 billion of sales in 2022, and that's based only on 1.7 billion doses committed to purchasing contracts.
  • Pfizer said it will manufacture up to 4 billion doses next year, meaning there are 2.3 billion doses it could still sell.

The bottom line: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is extremely effective and has saved millions of lives. It's also become of the biggest moneymakers in pharmaceutical history.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Health

CDC: 60% of U.S. is fully vaccinated

Photo: Nick Oxford/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sixty percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: This comes as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the U.S. It has been detected in 19 states, and the number is expected to increase, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Tuesday's White House COVID-19 briefing.

Dec 7, 2021 - Health

Report: COVID exacerbated young people's "unprecedented" mental health challenges

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 15. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. surgeon general warned on Tuesday young people face "unprecedented" mental health challenges — and the pandemic has only made matters worse.

Why it matters: Depression, suicidal ideation and emergency room visits for mental health reasons have risen significantly in young people, according to the 53-page advisory from the country's top physician, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy.

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.