Covid-19 vaccines: the contracts, prices and profits

Raised charges and Covax deals on order books of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca

Two US companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have raised the prices of their Covid-19 vaccines after data from clinical trials showed their mRNA formula was more effective than cheaper vaccines from Britain’s AstraZeneca and the American drugs maker Johnson & Johnson.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have pledged to provide their doses on a not-for-profit basis until the pandemic ends.


Sales worth $11.3bn (£8bn) were made by Pfizer in the first half of this year from the Covid-19 jab that it developed with Germany’s BioNTech. In July it lifted its 2021 sales forecast to $33.5bn.

BioNTech expects to make revenues of nearly €16bn (£13.5bn) from the vaccine this year, as its first-half net profit jumped to almost €4bn from €142m a year earlier.

The two firms have agreed to supply up to 1.8bn doses to the EU from December up to 2023, on top of 600m doses previously ordered this year. The US government has ordered 700m up to April next year for Americans, as well as 500m for donations to the poorest nations.

Pfizer and BioNTech are aiming to produce 3bn jabs this year and 4bn next year. They are now charging the EU €19.50 per jab, up from €15.50 in the first procurement deal, the Financial Times reported. The UK is also reportedly paying more than previously, about £22 a shot for 35m doses for next year’s autumn booster campaign.

Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Bourla, recently explained the tiered pricing. “This means wealthier nations would pay about the cost of a takeaway meal for each dose … middle-income countries would pay roughly half that price … and to low-income countries we were offering them doses at cost.”


This company generated nearly $6bn of sales from its Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of the year, achieving a $4bn net profit – the first half-year profit since the firm was founded in Massachusetts in 2010.

Moderna has signed $20bn worth of vaccine contracts this year, including that for 17m doses to the UK, 460m to the EU and 500m to the US. It expects to produce up to 1bn jabs this year, followed by 2bn-3bn in 2022.

It has charged the US government (which helped fund the development of the vaccine) up to $16.50 a dose, and has sold it for $22 to $37 outside the US. Last week the company also said that sales under the Covax vaccine initiative to low-income countries were “considerably lower than the price to the US government”. The firm has reportedly lifted the price it charges the EU to $25.50 a dose from about $19 in its first deal.


Revenue of $1.2bn was achieved by AstraZeneca from the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford in the first half of the year. So far it has shipped 1bn doses globally and is aiming to produce a total of 2bn-3bn jabs this year. The UK government is in negotiations with AstraZeneca to order a new version of its vaccine adapted to tackle variants of the coronavirus. Results from clinical trials are expected later this year.

The AstraZeneca jab is the cheapest of the main Covid-19 vaccines, priced at just $2.15 a dose in the company’s contract with the EU, rising to just over $5 a shot elsewhere.

However, the EU has not ordered any more doses after the vaccine was linked with rare blood clots. AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said last month that “at some point in the future” the company would raise its prices, adding: “We cannot be a non-profit forever, but we will never intend to make large profits.”


Denmark has ordered 280,000 doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine for $5.8m – roughly $20.90 per dose – as part of an EU deal with the US company. The European Commission said last week it would buy up to 200m doses of the vaccine, which is yet to be approved by the EU’s drugs regulator.


Julia Kollewe

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
From Pfizer to Moderna: who's making billions from Covid-19 vaccines?
The companies in line for the biggest windfalls – and the shareholders who have already made fortunes

Julia Kollewe

06, Mar, 2021 @11:55 AM

Article image
Analysis: is it wise for England to mix and match Covid vaccines?
US experts warn against plan to give different second jab if supplies run low

Sarah Boseley Health editor

03, Jan, 2021 @5:39 PM

Article image
EU Covid incompetence leaves governments wanting vaccines, not excuses | Larry Elliott
Centralised approach was meant to underline Europe’s solidarity but has had opposite effect

Larry Elliott

31, Jan, 2021 @12:16 PM

Article image
Moderna vaccine trial's results bode well for Oxford/AstraZeneca jab
Phase 3 efficacy rate of nearly 95% for US firm’s treatment is promising for UK vaccine trial

Nicola Davis and Jessica Elgot

16, Nov, 2020 @6:57 PM

Article image
Pfizer forecasts $26bn from annual sales of Covid-19 vaccine
Vaccine will generate 73% more than forecast based on contracts signed until mid-April

Julia Kollewe

04, May, 2021 @1:12 PM

Article image
Oxford Covid-19 vaccine is still possible this year, says AstraZeneca chief
Pharmaceutical firm’s boss says 2020 deadline possible if regulators move fast

Julia Kollewe

10, Sep, 2020 @9:15 AM

Article image
AstraZeneca CEO hits back at Covid vaccine supply criticism
Pascal Soriot says firm is doing its best to produce more and ‘should be proud of what we did in the world’

Julia Kollewe

30, Apr, 2021 @11:30 AM

Article image
NHS doctors 'scrabbling' to get vaccine amid alarm at Covid variant
Many medics ‘frustrated’ about low priority given to frontline staff at high risk of infection

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

27, Dec, 2020 @8:46 PM

Article image
Nine out of 10 in poor nations to miss out on inoculation as west buys up Covid vaccines
Billions unlikely to get jabs as rich countries secure 53% of most promising vaccines

Sarah Boseley Health editor

09, Dec, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
What Covid vaccines does the UK have and which are in the works?
As Valneva recruits volunteers for final stage trials of its vaccine, here is the current state of play in Britain

Ian Sample Science editor

25, Apr, 2021 @11:01 PM