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Pfizer anticipates manufacturing 4 billion doses of its vaccine next year. Photo: Chet Strange/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer expects revenue from the COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed by BioNTech, will reach $33.5 billion this year — a 29% jump from the previously estimated $26 billion.

Why it matters: This vaccine, which has dramatically slowed the coronavirus pandemic, is on pace to be the world's top-selling drug of all time, by far. And now Pfizer is pushing for people to get a third "booster" shot of its vaccine to combat the growing Delta variant.

By the numbers: Pfizer registered $7.8 billion of COVID-19 vaccine sales in the second quarter, bringing total worldwide sales so far this year to $11.3 billion.

  • Pfizer expects to deliver 2.1 billion doses this year and has the capacity to manufacture 4 billion doses next year, CEO Albert Bourla said on a conference call.
  • The U.S. previously paid $19.50 per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but Pfizer recently raised the price to the government to $24 per dose.
  • Flashback: Last year, Bourla said the company would not put a "huge price" on the vaccine, "because that's really taking advantage of a situation, and people will not forget if you do that."

Driving the news: Pfizer said it has new data showing a third dose of its vaccine increases antibody levels significantly against the Delta variant.

  • Pfizer has a financial interest in people, especially Americans, getting a third dose, as it would grow revenues even more.
  • However, epidemiologists have pointed out that higher antibody levels do not mean higher protection, and Pfizer's two-dose schedule is already effective against the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.

The big picture: A majority of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has gone to wealthy countries, whose governments pay higher prices for drugs than lower-income countries.

  • Many lower-income countries have started demanding more doses as their coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise.
  • "Africa was largely spared by the pandemic in 2020, but not this year. We lack vaccines, and we are gasping for air," Mosoka Fallah, former director-general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, said this week.

What to watch: Moderna reports vaccine sales and earnings Aug. 5.

  • Johnson & Johnson said it expects its COVID-19 vaccine will generate $2.5 billion of sales this year.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Oct 17, 2021 - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.