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How COVID-19 Vaccines Changed Pharma Company Profits

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Katharina Buchholz

The profitability of coronavirus vaccines has come under scrutiny in connection with vaccine patents, but the temporary lifting of patents that were supposed to make the production of the life-saving inoculations more financially feasible for poorer countries did not happen in the end. Critics of the procedure pointed out that even if patents and the costs associated with them would disappear, production facilities capable of manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines would still be lacking in most places.

As booster shots are ensuring that coronavirus vaccines remain sought after, company financial reports show that COVID-19 vaccine makers and developers like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and BioNTech have mostly seen their profits increase since the vaccine rollout, at times majorly.

Pharma giants like Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer bring in billions of dollars of income every quarter from diverse sources. While the COVID bump was smaller for Johnson & Johnson, it majorly increased Pfizer's bottom line due to its hugely popular vaccine.

For smaller AstraZeneca, profits actually decreased compared with 2020 in part linked to an increase in investments in R&D. The Anglo-Swedish manufacturer has also said it was selling its vaccine at cost during the pandemic and was not profiting from it. In the case of Moderna, the past year has turned a loss into a profit. The case is similar for German company BioNTech, which collaborated with Pfizer on its COVID vaccine. The company had run a deficit since its founding in 2008 up until Q4 2020, when it posted a profit for the first time. The $446 million earned that quarter only about made up for the losses accrued between Q1 and Q3 of 2020. In the three quarters since then, BioNTech has earned the more sizable sum of $8.16 billion.

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