What's going on?
Pfizer reported better-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday, as the pharma company continues to take a principled stand against Big Hesitancy.
What does this mean?
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Pfizer’s anti-Covid treatments were still going strong last quarter. The vaccine the company co-produces with BioNTech – the most-used shot in Europe and the US – made $13 billion in sales last quarter, as the rollout of boosters and the approval of shots for children kept demand high. Paxlovid – the company’s dedicated antiviral pill – chipped in too, bringing in a tidy $1.5 billion. And since together they make up more than half of the pharma giant’s revenue, its total revenue came in a better-than-expected 77% higher than the same time last year. There was one snag, mind you: Pfizer cut its profit outlook as it warned about higher research and development costs to come.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Vaccines lose their effectiveness.
There are signs that demand for vaccines is slowing down: data out last month showed that less than half the number of shots were given in mid-March than in the first week of January (tweet this). This, as people in rich countries become increasingly reluctant to take repeated booster shots, and as those in poorer countries opt not to take one in the first place. That might be why health data analytics group Airfinity is now expecting a third fewer vaccines to be sold globally this year than it previously thought.
Zooming out: Pfizer diversifies its portfolio.
Analysts reckon that this slowdown could be a sign that the influx of post-Covid cash for vaccine producers is coming to an end. So it’s a good thing Pfizer’s already making efforts to push into new areas: it took over Arena Pharmaceuticals in December, and it announced last month that it would be buying respiratory drug maker ReViral to boost its drug portfolio.