This selection ensures that the vaccine makers will have new jabs available by fall, marking a significant win as they prepare to compete against one another.
Targeting the Omicron Subvariant XBB.1.5
The omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 accounted for nearly 40% of all COVID cases in the U.S. in early June, although its prevalence has been gradually declining, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax proactively started developing vaccines targeting XBB.1.5 months before the FDA’s decision, and preliminary data presented by these companies indicates robust immune responses against all XBB variants.
By focusing on XBB.1.5, the FDA’s strain selection prevents the companies from manufacturing shots for an entirely different strain, which would have caused delays in delivery.
Pfizer has already announced its ability to deliver a shot targeting XBB.1.5 by July, while Moderna and Novavax have not provided specific timelines for their versions.
Dr. Melinda Wharton, a senior official at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, expressed confidence that vaccines targeting XBB.1.5 are most likely to be available early without causing delays in availability.
This aligns with the U.S.’s plan to shift COVID vaccine distribution to the private sector in the fall, as the government’s supply of free shots is expected to run out. Manufacturers will sell the updated jabs directly to healthcare providers.
While Johnson & Johnson’s shots are no longer available in the U.S. due to reports of rare but serious blood-clotting side effects, Pfizer and Moderna see the commercial market as an opportunity to expand their distribution channels beyond government contracts.
However, both companies anticipate a decline in COVID-related sales this year as the world emerges from the pandemic and fewer people rely on vaccines and treatments.
Revenue Projections: Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax’s Expectations for COVID Shot Sales
Pfizer expects COVID shot revenue to decrease to $13.5 billion this year from $37.8 billion in 2022, while Moderna projects a minimum of $5 billion in revenue from its COVID vaccine, which generated $18.4 billion in revenue last year.
For Novavax, entering the commercial market is crucial for its survival beyond 2023. The company received U.S. approval for its COVID vaccine under emergency use just last year due to regulatory and manufacturing delays.
The FDA’s strain selection positions Novavax as a viable competitor against Pfizer and Moderna, and the company aims to capture commercial market share. Novavax hopes to generate $1.06 billion to $1.24 billion in COVID vaccine sales this year, slightly lower than the $1.5 billion generated in 2022.
However, a challenge shared by all three companies is the uncertainty surrounding the number of Americans willing to receive updated vaccines later this year, even if they are delivered on time. As per CDC data, only around 17% of the U.S. population, roughly 56 million people, have received Pfizer and Moderna’s latest boosters since their approval in September.
As Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax prepare to roll out their updated vaccines targeting the omicron variant, their success will depend on the public’s willingness to receive them. Despite the timely delivery of vaccines, there is still a need to overcome vaccine hesitancy and encourage a higher vaccination rate.
The CDC’s data shows that a significant portion of the population has not yet received the latest boosters. This highlights the ongoing challenge of reaching and convincing individuals to get vaccinated.
Public health campaigns and education efforts will be crucial in addressing vaccine hesitancy and ensuring widespread acceptance of the updated vaccines.
The selection of Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax for manufacturing vaccines targeting the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 positions these companies as key players in the fight against evolving COVID variants.
Importance of Public Health Campaigns and Education in Promoting Vaccination
It also allows them to tap into the commercial market, expanding their distribution channels beyond government contracts.
As the world gradually emerges from the pandemic, Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax anticipate a decline in COVID-related sales. However, their focus on developing vaccines for emerging variants and their ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances will be crucial in maintaining their position in the market.
The FDA’s strain selection ensures the timely delivery of updated vaccines and streamlines the manufacturing process, reducing the likelihood of delays. This is crucial in meeting the vaccine demand as the U.S. government plans to shift distribution to the private sector in the coming months.
While uncertainties remain regarding the public’s response to updated vaccines, the selection of Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax by the FDA provides a clear path for delivering effective vaccines targeting the omicron variant.
Continued efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and promote the importance of vaccination will be essential in achieving widespread protection and overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19.