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BioNTech’s COVID vaccine sales are poised to slip, but the shot will remain a ‘cash cow’ in the long term: analysts

Reports of dwindling COVID-19 vaccine demand have been circulating for months. Now, the slump threatens to cut into BioNTech’s revenue hauls in 2022 and beyond, according to one group of analysts.

Since much of the world has “decided to live with the virus,” ODDO BHF analysts slashed their forecasts for BioNTech’s 2022 and 2023 COVID vaccine sales by 28% and 33%, respectively. This year, the team expects BioNTech to record Comirnaty sales of 14.1 billion euros, which is “at the low end” of the company’s guidance of 13 billion euros to 17 billion euros, the team noted.

For all of 2021, BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine helped the company generate total revenues of 19 billion euros.

When it comes to delivery volumes for 2022, ODDO now thinks BioNTech will be able to deliver 2.64 billion doses under its arrangement with Pfizer, down significantly from a previous estimate of 3.64 billion doses. Beyond 2022, BioNTech is expected to deliver 1.14 billion doses of a booster vaccine each year, down from a previous annual forecast of 1.74 billion doses, the analysts wrote.

The team originally thought “bottom demand” from China of 100 million doses a year could pad out Comirnaty’s sales haul, but “we now reduce this to zero,” the ODDO team said.

“We assumed that Comirnaty could be approved during the summer, but it looks as if China will follow its lockdown strategy rather than using an efficacious vaccine (in preventing severe disease),” they explained.

Elsewhere, industry watchers and pharma execs have repeatedly suggested that the eventual commercial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines could resemble the flu shot market—and that’s not necessarily a good thing for BioNTech, the ODDO analysts pointed out.

Citing studies that have shown between 95% and 99% of populations in the developed world are immunized against COVID-19—either through vaccination, infection, or both—the ODDO team points out that “large parts of the world have decided to live with the virus, like with the flu virus.” They also flagged the fact that COVID-19 mortality rates in the developed world have dropped to “the influenza level or even below.”

In light of the evolving prophylactic landscape, ODDO foresees yearly vaccination campaigns targeting “mostly vulnerable people largely above 60 years of age.” That’s a more limited group than was included in the ODDO team’s previous forecast of annual campaigns for the broader population over 40 years of age.

Still, it’s not all bad news for BioNTech, which has been on an expansion spree over the past two years. The ODDO team expects BioNTech’s cash position to skyrocket from 1.7 billion euros at the end of 2021 to 19 billion euros by the end of 2022. Come 2024, BioNTech could pocket revenues of 26.9 billion euros, the analysts added, noting they expect Comirnaty “should remain a cash cow.” COVID aside, the ODDO team notes BioNTech’s pipeline in oncology is “building up.”

“Beyond our forecast period until 2024, the pipeline beyond Comirnaty should become more important,” the ODDO team said.

BioNTech has already had to grapple with decreased vaccine demand this year. Over the second quarter, the Pfizer partner logged revenues of 3.2 billion euros ($3.3 billion), a whopping 40% decline from the amount it made during the same period in 2021. The sales plunge was nearly 50% down from the company’s first-quarter revenue figure of 6.4 billion euros, too.

“The development of the pandemic has been and remains dynamic, causing a rephasing of orders, with this leading to fluctuations in quarterly revenue,” BioNTech’s chief financial officer Jens Holstein said on a conference call last month. The company attributed much of the shortfall to delays in vaccine deliveries to the European Union.