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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

May 4, 2021 - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine generated $3.5 billion in revenue in Q1

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine generated $3.5 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2021, which was nearly a fourth of the company's $14.6 billion income during the period, the pharmaceutical giant reported in an earnings call Tuesday.

Why it matters: The vaccine was the biggest source of revenue for Pfizer — which, unlike some of its competitors — elected to collect the profit from sales of its vaccine, the New York Times notes.

May 4, 2021 - Health

Report: CVS and Walgreens have wasted over 128,000 COVID doses

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

CVS and Walgreens, two pharmacy chains that have worked with the federal government to administer COVID-19 vaccines, wasted more doses than most states combined, per government data obtained by Kaiser Health News.

Why it matters: The wasted doses raise questions about the efficacy of the vaccine rollout, especially now as the U.S. starts sending extra doses to India and other COVID-stricken countries.