Drugmakers Pfizer Inc, BioNTech and Moderna Inc are expected to reap billions of dollars from COVID-19 booster shots in a market that could rival the $6 billion in annual sales for flu vaccines for years to come, analysts and healthcare investors say.
For several months, the companies have said they expect that fully inoculated people will need an extra dose of their vaccines to maintain protection over time and to fend off new coronavirus variants.
Now a growing list of governments, including Chile, Germany and Israel, have decided to offer booster doses to older citizens or people with weak immune systems in the face of the fast-spreading Delta variant.
Late on Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a booster dose of vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc for people with compromised immune systems.
Pfizer, along with its German partner BioNTech, and Moderna have together locked up over $60 billion in sales of the shots just in 2021 and 2022. The agreements include a supply of the initial two doses of their vaccines as well as billions of dollars in potential boosters for wealthy nations.
Going forward, analysts have forecast revenue of over $6.6 billion for the Pfizer/BioNTech shot and $7.6 billion for Moderna in 2023, mostly from booster sales. They eventually see the annual market settling at around $5 billion or higher, with additional drugmakers competing for those sales.
The vaccine makers say that evidence of waning antibody levels in vaccinated people after six months, as well as an increasing rate of breakthrough infections in countries hit by the Delta variant, support the need for booster shots.
Some early data suggests that the Moderna vaccine, which delivers a higher dose at the outset, maybe more durable than Pfizer’s shot, but more research is needed to determine whether that is influenced by the age or underlying health of the people vaccinated.
As a result, it is far from clear how many people will need boosters, and how often. The profit potential of booster shots may be limited by the number of competitors who enter the market. In addition, some scientists question whether there is enough evidence that boosters are needed, particularly for younger, healthy people. The World Health Organization has asked governments to hold off on booster shots until more people worldwide receive their initial doses.
“We don’t know what the market forces will be,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in an interview last week. “At some point, this will become a more traditional market – we’ll look at what are the populations at risk, what value are we creating, and what is the number of products that serve that value. That will ultimately impact price.”
Pfizer declined to comment on the story. During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, executives said they believe a third dose will be necessary 6 to 8 months after vaccination, and regularly afterward.
A MODEL IN FLU SHOTS
If regular COVID-19 boosters are needed among the general population, the market would most resemble the flu shot business, which distributes more than 600 million doses per year. Four competitors split the U.S. flu market, which is the most lucrative and accounts for around half the global revenue, according to Dave Ross, an executive at CSL’s flu vaccine unit Seqirus.
Flu vaccination rates in developed countries have settled at around 50 percent of the population, and COVID boosters would likely follow a similar pattern if approved widely, said Atlantic Equities analyst Steve Chesney.
Flu shots cost around $18 to $25 a dose, according to U.S. government data and competition has kept price increases in check, with producers raising prices 4 or 5 percent in 2021.
Pfizer and Moderna may have greater pricing power for their boosters, at least at the outset, until competitors arrive. Pfizer initially charged $19.50 per dose for its vaccine in the United States and 19.50 euros for the European Union but has already raised those prices by 24 percent and 25 percent, respectively, in subsequent supply deals.
AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson are both gathering additional data on boosters of their vaccines. Novavax, Curevac, and Sanofi could also potentially be used as boosters, though their vaccines have yet to receive any regulatory authorization.
“A lot of these firms aren’t even in the market yet. I think within a year’s time, all these companies will have booster strategies,” said Morningstar analyst Damien Conover, who covers Pfizer.
Mizuho Securities analyst Vamil Divan expects at least 5 players in the COVID-19 booster market within a few years.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty around how boosters would be rolled out in the United States. Still, it is possible or even likely that people will be boosted with different vaccines than they were originally vaccinated with. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is already testing mixed boosting, and other countries that have used so-called mix and match vaccination have not had problems with that strategy.
One factor that could curb prices is if the U.S. government continues paying for most or all of the shots administered in the country, rather than leave it in the hands of private health insurers. In that scenario, the government would still be negotiating prices directly with vaccine makers and could use its buying power to stave off price increases.
Bijan Salehizadeh, managing director at healthcare investment firm Navimed Capital, said the U.S. government is likely going to want to keep paying in order to keep vaccination rates high and prevent new COVID surges, particularly if a Democratic administration is still in power.
“It’s going to be paid for until the virus disappears or mutates to be less virulent,” Salehizadeh said.
Afrexim and Asoko Partner to Help List African Companies
Asoko Insight, Africa’s leading provider of corporate data and engagement services, is pleased to announce a partnership with Africa Export-Import Bank that will help African companies list on its due diligence platform, the MANSA.
Launched by Afrexim in 2018 to counter the cuts in trade finance and investment financial flows to Africa, MANSA aims to be a single source of the primary data required for Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks on African entities. The transparency MANSA provides will address key trade-related challenges facing the continent, including the lack of market information, the high cost of doing business in Africa and the challenges around discovering African counterparties.
The corporate information gathered through this KYC platform provides an additional layer of confidence for international financiers and African companies seeking business partners, unlocking the flow of capital and creating a more transparent operational landscape for trade and investment.
Onboarded as an official data partner for the project, Asoko will host access to the MANSA platform on its Digital Engagement platform through which African companies can register and submit their CDD/KYC information to be listed on the MANSA platform.
Rob Withagen, co-founder and CEO of Asoko Insight, said, “Easing access to African companies for trade and investment opportunities is at the core of Asoko’s work. MANSA is a key tool for facilitating data sharing about members of Africa’s vibrant private sector and we’re pleased to offer a route to it via our Digital Engagement platform.”
HOPE Consortium and Astral Aviation Sign MOU to Enhance Vaccine Distribution Solutions in Africa
As part of its continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa, the HOPE Consortium has partnered with Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation, to offer vaccine distribution solutions to Africa. This highlights the HOPE Consortium’s efforts in reinforcing partnerships that focus on fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as fulfilling the organisation’s mission as a global logistics facilitator, by aiding in vaccine delivery.
As part of the partnership agreement, both entities will focus on intra-African cooperation to enhance vaccine distribution within the African continent. The HOPE Consortium will utilise Astral Aviation’s comprehensive network, technologies, and market expertise, to support its global objective of facilitating vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations.
Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and provides innovative, flexible, and cost-effective UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) integrated drone-based solutions, as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations.
This synergetic collaboration with the HOPE Consortium will see Astral Aviation provide capacity for vaccine deliveries on its scheduled and charter freighter network, in addition to world-class drone solutions and systems to Africa, with the purpose of facilitating immunisation programmes.
Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation said: “We are truly honoured to partner with the HOPE Consortium and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, based on our track record in performing humanitarian initiatives and vaccine flights within Africa. Astral will add further technological and warehousing solutions for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines from the hub in Abu Dhabi, to all the 54 countries in Africa directly or via its Nairobi Hub, which occupies 9000 m2 of cold-storage facilities.”
It is worth mentioning that Astral has also been selected by UNICEF to perform vaccine flights for COVAX and for the African Union via the African Medical Supplies Platform.
Through this partnership, the HOPE Consortium furthers its end-to-end supply chains required to distribute vaccines from their base in Abu Dhabi to all African countries. The HOPE Consortium has geared its operations to transport millions of critical COVID-19 vaccines to any country in need and thus far has handled over 100 million vaccine doses across 40 countries.
Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Africa has always been a high priority market for the HOPE Consortium, and to that end, we are pleased to join hands with Astral Aviation. With a track record of operating over 20 years within Africa, their expertise provides a new dimension towards achieving our overarching objectives. This partnership reinforces the HOPE Consortium’s aim of creating a sustainable ecosystem, based on our collective global networks, logistics and supply chain capabilities, in order to facilitate vaccine distribution across the world. Our partnership with Astral Aviation is another benchmark towards our commitment to serve every country, region, and locale. We are confident that this partnership will help enhance HOPE Consortium’s efforts in Africa and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest against the pandemic.”
Konga Partners NIDCOM, Places World-Class Assets at Reach of Nigerians in Diaspora
Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce giant, has signed a partnership with the Federal Government through the Diaspora Commission to further strengthen the relationship between Nigerians abroad, their relatives and the nation.
To this effect, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Konga and the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Present at the signing ceremony was the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NIDCOM, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, Co-CEO, Konga Group, Nick Imudia; Vice President, KongaPay, Isa Aliyushata as well as other senior officials of NIDCOM.
The terms of the MoU will see NIDCOM partner with Konga is offering Nigerians based in overseas locations a credible platform devoid of the potential concerns of fraud and other unscrupulous practices. Consequently, through this synergy, Konga will place its huge resources, extensive reach, world-class assets and credible database at the disposal of millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora in search of a reliable and robust platform to work within the country.
In addition, the partnership will see Konga set up an exclusive Diaspora Marketplace to aid Nigerians abroad gain access to quality Nigerian products and services, while also helping them sell their own items locally. Furthermore, NIDCOM will also leverage Konga TV, a cutting-edge Cloud TV soon to be launched by the e-commerce giant, to reach millions of Nigerians across the globe.
The development is one which the FG believes will ease capital flight, while also boosting the scope of useful foreign exchange earnings through Diaspora returns.
‘‘We are delighted to have signed this partnership with Konga which remains unarguably a world recognized and credible e-commerce leader in Nigeria,’’ disclosed Hon Mrs. Abike Erewa, NIDCOM Executive Chairman. ‘‘Through this initiative, millions of Nigerians will have access to a reliable platform here in Nigeria to guide their investment decisions, while also offering them a chance to empower their loved ones through the numerous opportunities that abound on KongaGroup. We are also confident that this partnership will encourage many Nigerians resident abroad to gain useful knowledge and consider major social investments in Nigeria, a development that will further rub off positively on the economy.”
Also speaking at the event, Ekeh, Chairman of Konga commended the NIDCOM Chairman and her team for their efforts and professionalism in making the partnership a reality. Ekeh, who pioneered e-commerce in Africa through the now-defunct BuyRight Africa Dotcom over 13 years ago, lauded the power of e-commerce in bridging gaps and growing the wealth of nations in the 21stCentury, a role he stated that Konga is eminently positioned to play in view of its huge resources and growth trajectory in Nigeria and beyond. He added that the partnership is expected to cause a change that would be a blessing to Nigerians in the 21st century.
On his part, Imudia, Co-CEO, Konga Group also stressed the many opportunities that abound for Nigerians in the Diaspora through the partnership with NIDCOM.
‘‘The opportunities are huge.
‘‘Many Nigerians abroad can now find credible merchants for their purchases in Nigeria or even set up their own stores on Konga. Also, they can access reliable information before committing funds or while making investment decisions. With Konga, Nigerians abroad can afford to extend support to relatives and their respective communities without stories.
‘‘Put simply, Nigerians abroad can order foodstuffs, medicines, and other products on Konga platforms and get them delivered to their families and friends without stories, no matter the location in Nigeria. All they need do is open a wallet on KongaPay, a Central Bank of Nigeria fully licensed mobile money platform. They can also use the Konga platform to pay school fees, monthly feeding allowances and pay contractors working for them in Nigeria, etc. and receive alerts that their instructions have been carried out with 100% accuracy.’’
The partnership with NIDCOM comes just as Konga recently signed off on another partnership with the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development to empower millions of Nigerians youths through a job and wealth creation scheme known as Konga Jobs (KJ). The initiative targets the employed, under-employed and unemployed Nigerians. Konga also recently entered a strategic partnership with the Edo State Government to launch the Edo Marketplace(EMP) on Konga as a major platform to take SMEs in the state to the global marketplace and to better serve the unreached and under-reached.
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