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Pfizer vaccine bottles are pictured at a COVID-19 vaccine administration center on May 4 in Italy. That same day, Pfizer reported a 42% year over year increase in revenue, a jump driven largely by the vaccine. Photo: by Donato Fasano/Getty Images

Pfizer reported a super strong first quarter, saying it now expects about $26 billion in sales for its COVID-19 vaccine this year. That's up from an earlier projection of about $15 billion.

The big picture: That anticipated windfall comes as the Biden administration announced more ambitious U.S. vaccine goals and the world scrambles to get access to shots.

The state of play: In the first quarter, Pfizer posted about $4.9 billion in profits on revenue of $14.6 billion. That's up about 45% from about $3.4 billion in the first quarter of 2020 on revenue of $10.1 billion.

  • That was in large part because Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, created with BioNTech, generated $3.5 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2021 alone.

Reality check: These are some seriously big numbers. If you need a comparison, look to one of Pfizer's all-time blockbusters Lipitor, which made about $13 billion in one year, at its peak.

Details: As of May 3, Pfizer and BioNTech have shipped approximately 430 million doses of the vaccine to 91 countries and territories. They expect to deliver 1.6 billion doses through the end of the year.

  • Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also told investors the company expects to hear back "shortly" from the FDA on the authorization of its vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15.
  • In March, Pfizer and BioNTech began a global study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and ability of the vaccine to work in children as young as six months old. Results from the study are expected to be available in the second half of 2021.

Our thought bubble: Don't be surprised if this fans the flames of an already boiling fight over intellectual property rights for the vaccines.

Go deeper

How the messaging around FDA approval could boost COVID shots

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine can provide a big boost to vaccination efforts or a more modest one — depending on how it is handled when the decision comes down.

Between the lines: If FDA approval is left to be interpreted by the public through the countless channels of communication and misinformation people use to digest vaccine information, the effect of the decision will be much more modest or even muddled.

Aug 12, 2021 - Health

CDC head warns unauthorized boosters undermine safety monitoring

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Thursday that Americans getting unauthorized booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine undermine the CDC's safety monitoring of recipients.

Why it matters: With booster shots a near inevitability, many Americans are eager to know when they will be able to get one. Some are now circumventing official CDC guidelines and getting a third shot.

Two days into school year, 440 students in a Florida district are quarantined

Nearly 500 students in Palm Beach County, Florida, have been quarantined because of COVID-19 just two days into the school year, the district's superintendent said Thursday.

Why it matters: Superintendent Michael Burke's announcement comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has maintained his executive order banning school districts in the state from requiring the use of masks amid criticism and lawsuits.