Pfizer Inc executives on Tuesday expressed measured optimism over the prospect of providing a COVID-19 vaccine this year even as they signaled key data on the vaccine would not be released before the US presidential election on Tuesday next week.
Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said that the drug giant could this year supply about 40 million doses in the US if clinical testing proceeds as expected and regulators approve the vaccine.
“If all goes well, we will be ready to distribute an initial number of doses,” said Bourla, who pointed to a US government contract for Pfizer to supply 40 million doses by the end of this year and 100 million doses by March next year.
Photo: AP, Cincinnati Children Hospital Medical Center
However, Bourla said that the company had still not reached key benchmarks in assessing vaccine efficacy. Pfizer previously said that it could have the data this month, which might have advanced the process ahead of the US election.
“We have reached the last mile here,” Bourla said. “So let’s all have the patience that’s required for something so important for public health and the global economy.”
He said that the company expects to file for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in the third week of next month, roughly in line with earlier timetables.
Asked if he was “bullish” that the vaccine would work, Bourla said: “I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Pfizer reported a 71 percent drop in profit to US$2.2 billion in the latest quarter. However, the comparable period last year included a large gain connected to a transaction.
Revenues dipped 4 percent to US$12.1 billion, missing analyst estimates.
Pfizer estimated a revenue drop of US$500 million due to COVID-19 leading to lower pharmaceutical demand in China and fewer wellness visits by US patients.
The company posted an 11 percent drop in its hospital business in emerging markets, primarily due to fewer elective surgeries and shorter in-patient hospital stays in China.
This effect was partially offset by increased demand for the Prevnar-13 vaccine for pneumonia “resulting from greater vaccine awareness for respiratory illnesses,” the company said.
Pfizer also cited strong performance in its biopharma business due to good sales of cancer drug Ibrance, anticoagulant Eliquis and other medications.
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