“The Covid pill will not cause vaccine sales to drop.” Word of the Pfizer leaders, who in a meeting with analysts of the financial consultancy Wolfe Research, explain without mincing words that the new oral anti-viral will be aimed at no vaxes. To those who, regardless of the motivation, have so far preferred to stay away from vaccines. A strategy based on two evaluations. The first, of a health nature: the pill will be used to fight the pandemic more effectively. The second, strictly economic: the new drug will make profits jump even higher.
The meeting with Pfizer leaders was held on November 17 at the health conference organized by Wolfe Research. This company has the task of evaluating the performance of listed companies and periodically issues very important “recommendations” for investors. Asking the key question is Timothy Minton Anderson, a pharmaceutical and biotech analyst at large-cap companies. He addresses Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of medical research and development. «Mine is a commercial question – Anderson makes it clear right away – but I’m sure you’ve thought about it. What does this mean for vaccination rates? As a vendor of the vaccine and as a vendor of oral antivirals, do you think the availability of the latter will actually reduce vaccination rates? When I told someone who was not in the healthcare field about this oral product, the first thing they said was, “Okay, now I don’t need to get the vaccine anymore.”
So, what will become of the vaccinations? ». The danger, from an economic point of view, is that the vaccine business could shrink. These are assessments that any manager at the head of a company is obliged to make. Vaccines have become Pfizer’s core business. In the third quarter of this year, they generated $ 24 billion in revenues and $ 8 billion in profits. At the beginning of November, the American pharmaceutical giant even revised its accounts upwards: expecting to collect 36 billion from the sale of the anti-Covid vaccine.
Pfizer’s chief scientific officer response to the financial analyst’s question is unequivocal. We report it in full: «Having a powerful pill and a powerful vaccine, both well tolerated, shows that in synergy they are complementary. As we have seen, those who wish to get vaccinated and who welcome the vaccine as a general approach prophylaxis will continue to get vaccinated, likely on an annual basis. Some groups are more vulnerable and it will be difficult to know exactly when they should get vaccinated. Every 6 months, every 12? If they get an infection, with Paxlovid (the anti-Covid pill, ed) those patients will have a powerful medical tool. There are families, workplaces or schools to use Paxlovid while waiting for our prophylaxis studio to immediately quell an outbreak. And, of course, we have to vaccinate the population that refuses the vaccine. For them it would be a life-saving tool. So I don’t really see any impact on vaccination. ‘
The experimentation is giving encouraging results. The pill would be able to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%. Dolsten is realistic: if we want to save the lives of no vax, the pill is better than nothing. His reasoning does not end there: «If we want to manage a decade or decades endemic to this virus, we must use both (vaccine and pill, ed). We will continue to say that vaccination is fundamental, but therapy can be complementary or even synergistic ». We are not used to hearing that. We all hope it will end soon. Pfizer brings us back down to earth: the pandemic will be endemic for a decade, if not decades.