March 5, 2024

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How will pharmaceutical companies respond to the Omicron epidemic?

How will pharmaceutical companies respond to the Omicron epidemic?


How will pharmaceutical companies respond to the Omicron epidemic?


The prevalence of the new variant virus Omicron has caused the future of the biopharmaceutical industry to be full of uncertainties.

2022 has already come, the blueprint plans for major manufacturers to respond to the COVID-19 pneumonia pandemic seem to be in place, but global cases are increasing significantly, and are even approaching the peak of 2021.


How will pharmaceutical companies respond to the Omicron epidemic?



Vaccine manufacturers step up preparations

For vaccine pharmaceutical companies, the battle for drugs that can prevent and treat Omicron as soon as possible has begun again.

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna have stepped up their development efforts to tailor vaccines for Omicron.

With their expertise in mRNA, several companies hope to quickly occupy the best position in the market.


Earlier this month, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin stated at a press conference that BioNTech will continue to advance the development of a potential Omicron vaccine, which may be available before February or March 2022.

However, expanding the scale of vaccine production requires the coordination of production speed.

Consulting and research company Airfinity currently forecasts global vaccine production in 2022 at 8.7 billion doses, but if new injections are needed, it is estimated that only 5 billion doses will be produced. Sierk Poetting, chief operating officer of BioNTech, said at a press conference that it is already releasing plasmid production capacity.


The emergence of Omicron will make more companies extremely busy. Airfinity stated that there are 358 COVID-19 vaccines in the pre-clinical development stage worldwide.

Among the 175 candidate vaccines in clinical development, 41 are in phase 3 clinical trials. Vaccines under development also include combination vaccines for COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory diseases that can be vaccinated.

There is no doubt that some patients have difficulty in accepting needle-injected vaccines.

Therefore, there are also pharmaceutical manufacturers developing other options for intranasal, oral, and needle-free injections.



Pfizer is expected to dominate the COVID-19 market

An analysis by British research company Airfinity shows that Pfizer will dominate the global COVID-19 drug market of about 20 billion U.S. dollars next year.

The reason is that developed countries will compete to buy COVID-19 drugs in 2022, while less developed countries have to wait until early 2023.

Let generic drug companies mass produce COVID-19 drugs. And Cantor Fitzgerald analysts also increased the Pfizer vaccine Comirnaty sales forecast in 2027 from 10 billion U.S. dollars to 25 billion U.S. dollars.


Pfizer previously stated that its experimental anti-coronavirus drug Paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization and death of high-risk patients with COVID-19 by 89%, which will help Pfizer maintain an absolute lead in both the COVID-19 vaccines and specific drugs. According to Airfinity data, Paxlovid is expected to bring about 17 billion U.S. dollars in revenue to Pfizer by 2022, and Merck expects its Molnupiravir drug to receive about 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in revenue next year.



New COVID-19 treatments continue to emerge

With the emergence of Omicron, finding drugs to treat people infected with COVID-19 has also become very urgent.

In laboratory studies, the Regeneron and Eli Lilly antibody mixtures have shown effectiveness against the Omicron variant.

Another approved antibody therapy produced by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology is also considered a good choice against Omicron, but the supply of this therapy quickly became very tight.


At the same time, Regeneron and Eli Lilly are busy developing methods to treat new variants. Len Schleifer, MD, CEO of Regeneron, said that the company may prepare an adjusted version in the first quarter of 2022 that will be effective against multiple virus variants.

Schleifer said that it is necessary to find a way to provide new therapies to more patients on a large scale before the next virus variant appears, including the ability to fight both Omicron and Delta variants at the same time.


Another treatment option is Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug Paxlovid, which has not yet been approved. Even if previous trials show that Paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%, and the therapy may generate greater clinical demand, even if the therapy is marketed, it may face supply problems in the early stages.

According to Airfinity estimates, the United States is expected to become the largest buyer of Pfizer’s Paxlovid, Merck and Ridgeback oral antiviral drugs Molnupiravir, accounting for more than half of the COVID-19 drug revenue in 2022, while the EU and the United Kingdom may spend nearly US$5 billion. Sales in more than 50 countries will reach US$3.7 billion.


The biopharmaceutical industry, as well as almost all other industries, initially suffered setbacks due to market uncertainty and restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

Will the emergence of Omicron bring worse results? Glenn Hunzinger, head of PwC’s U.S. Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Department, said that he believes that the biopharmaceutical industry has got rid of the burden of COVID on the business environment, and biopharmaceutical manufacturers will eventually find a way to survive in the new situation of the epidemic.




2022 forecast: With omicron extending the pandemic, how will biopharma respond to COVID?

How will pharmaceutical companies respond to the Omicron epidemic?

(source:internet, reference only)

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