: Whether COVID-19 boosters get approved or not, Pfizer and Moderna have already made their money

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It’s likely that millions of COVID-19 booster shots will be administered in the U.S. in the coming months, but that doesn’t mean companies like Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. will report an unexpected revenue windfall this year.

The agreements that both companies already signed with the U.S. government for additional doses back in June and July have already been factored into annual consensus by Wall Street analysts. (The U.S. is buying an additional 200 million doses each from Moderna

and from Pfizer
which developed its vaccine with BioNTech SE

Pfizer is expected to generate $9.6 billion in sales of the vaccine in the third quarter and $11.4 billion in sales in the fourth quarter, for a total of $32.8 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales in 2021, according to a FactSet consensus.

Sales projections for Moderna’s shot are much lower for the year. They are expected to come in at $6.9 billion in the third quarter and $7.1 billion in the fourth quarter, for a total of $20.0 billion in 2021. 

The sales figures include the primary series of shots and the booster doses.

Wall Street analysts always knew COVID-19 boosters were on the table

The Wall Street view is that this is more than enough vaccine to boost the people in the U.S. who will be eligible and also choose to get a third shot if and when it is approved.

The FDA late Wednesday authorized boosters for those 65 and older, younger adults with underlying health conditions and people in jobs that are at high risk of contracting COVID.

“Boosting will ultimately be offered to all who want it, in part, to avoid inequalities between the 1.1 [million] people who have already received a booster (and more people continue to seek boosters out there) and those who may want one but cannot get one,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said Sept. 15.

Though the Biden administration has put its full support behind a booster program for all adults in the U.S. and scientists are questioning the necessity of boosting people right now, Wall Street has tended to be a bit more realistic in its thinking.

Analysts have largely viewed COVID-19 booster shots as a sure thing, with the caveat that they will be limited to certain segments of the population, including older people and those who work in frontline jobs or have pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk of getting sick. 

This is the same case that was made by the FDA committee last week and the members of a CDC advisory committee a few weeks back.

(The regulator in August authorized a third dose of the mRNA shots for people who are immunocompromised. Those shots are not viewed as boosters, however, because many of those individuals never mounted an immune response to begin with.)

The FDA’s decision on the BioNTech/Pfizer booster is imminent, and the wheels in the regulatory process are already turning. The FDA advisory committee on Friday recommended boosters for the elderly and those at high risk of severe disease and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting Wednesday and Thursday to discuss who should get a booster.

What about market share?

If there’s something for investors to instead pay attention to, it’s this: the order in which booster shots are approved or authorized.

The race for market share isn’t very different compared with what happens with pharmaceuticals in our non-pandemic lives. Because Pfizer is first in line, it’s more likely that the company will become the dominant provider of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., according to SVB Leerink analysts. Vaccine markets tend to be dominated by one or two players.

“Pfizer seems set to now dominate the first generation of COVID boosting, which will make it that much harder for its existing competitors to gain share, and for new competitors to enter the market,” they wrote in a note to investors on Saturday.

So far this year, Pfizer’s stock has gained 20.3%, while Moderna shares have soared 320.8%. The S&P 500

is up 15.9% in 2021.