The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: AFP/Joel Saget

AstraZeneca’s pain is resulting in a big gain for Pfizer and BioNTech in the global vaccine war, according to a report by online investment website, Motley Fool.

And those gains could be further enhanced, following reports that Pfizer and BioNTech will boost their vaccine prices by more than 60% going forward, resulting in massive profits for the big pharmas.

On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they’re supplying the European Union with an additional 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty, the report said.

The European Commission exercised its option to buy these doses under an existing agreement signed in February. This move brings the total doses the two companies are supplying to EU members to 600 million.

Based on the price per dose already previously agreed upon, this additional order will boost sales of Comirnaty by more than US$1.4 billion. And it appears that Pfizer and BioNTech owe thanks in large part to AstraZeneca for the windfall, the report said. 

From early on in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca seemed destined to be the top player in Europe. As its clinical studies advanced quickly, the UK-based drugmaker lined up major supply deals with the EU.

But things have gone downhill since AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine received EU authorization in late January. 

The link between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and rare blood clots caused the EU to temporarily place a hold on the use of the vaccine, the report said.

However, that wasn’t the worst of it.

AstraZeneca was supposed to have delivered 120 million doses to the EU in the first quarter; the drugmaker only delivered 30 million doses. It promised to deliver 180 million doses in Q2, but the actual number delivered will be closer to 70 million.

You don’t have to read between the lines following EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent statements to pick up the digs against AstraZeneca.

In her announcement last week that the EU was talking with Pfizer and BioNTech about obtaining additional doses of Comirnaty, von der Leyen said, “We need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth.”

She added that the Pfizer-BioNTech team “has proven to be a reliable partner. It has delivered on its commitments, and it is responsive to our needs.” 

The story doesn’t end there, though. A lot more money is potentially on the way for Pfizer and BioNtech, the report said.

Von der Leyen stated that the EU is beginning negotiations with the two partners to buy another 1.8 billion doses of Comirnaty through 2023.

At the previously established price tag, this could be worth nearly US$26 billion.

However, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov let the cat out of the bag last week that Pfizer and BioNTech are increasing the price that the EU will have to pay for Comirnaty by more than 60% going forward, the report said.

Instead of US$26 billion, the two companies could make in the ballpark of US$42 billion from the new deal with the EU. 

Pfizer shares profits equally with BioNTech, which originally developed Comirnaty.

Their vaccine has demonstrated high efficacy.

It hasn’t produced the rare yet potentially life-threatening safety issues seen with AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines.