The end of 2019 and all of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, put the world of Big Pharma in the spotlight and, above all, under unspeakable pressure.
Many industry giants, such as Sanofi, GSK and Merck, despite the expertise, financial capabilities and experience of many other vaccines have not been able to develop a Coronavirus product. And for this they have been punished by the world stock exchanges.
On the contrary, young companies, unknown until then, such as the Americans Moderna and Novavax, the German BioNTech and Curevac were rewarded by the stock market. Among these elected certainly Pfizer, Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson. And all have gained, despite for AstraZeneca, there have been guilty delays in supplies, very rare critical cases of related thrombosis and insufficient communication.
In this small number of virtuous companies, a place also belongs to two, which in fact have a state majority, such as those that supported the research of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the Chinese one Sinovac.
In any case, 2020 was a complicated year for the entire global pharmaceutical industry, regardless of the vaccines against Covid-19. Pharmaceuticals have had to endure, in the face of cyclopean investments in research, blocks and delays in clinical trials to get to vaccines, heavy slowdowns by drug regulatory agencies, sharp decreases for the approval of drugs for different diseases and lower sales of devices or drugs for diseases other than Coronavirus.
So, although it is easy to think that companies made huge gains in the year of the pandemic, the reality is not quite so. Moderna, for example, grew from $ 60 million in 2019 to $ 800 million last year, thanks to a fourth quarter marked by vaccine sales and public subsidies. But in reality, Moderna lost 747 million dollars, compared to 514 million in 2019 due to its (tripled) research effort on vaccines.
“Exhibition” investments that will be rewarded in 2021. For Moderna alone, orders are almost over 500 million doses from the United States alone, 300 from Europe, 44 from Canada, 50 from Japan and 40 from South Korea.
Warren Buffet, who staked a lot on future earnings, bought 5 billion dollars worth of pharmaceutical shares through his Berkshire Hathway fund.
2020 was the year that companies decided to bet on vaccines, test them and then distribute them. 2021, on the other hand, is the one in which maximum power will be given to production.
Pfizer spent a lot on research (9,405 million in 2020, compared to 8,394 million the year before). And he hopes for an economic return of $ 15 billion for over 2,000 million doses.
Johnson & Johnson plans to distribute approximately 1 billion doses, the equivalent of $ 10 billion.
In any case, for all the problems of image remain high to be considered insensitive protagonists, who want to earn a lot, on life-saving products. For those left out of the game there is always the possibility of producing vaccines for those who hold the patents.
Merck, which can design useful treatments for Ebola or HIV, will manufacture the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Sanofi will do the same to produce 100 million doses of Pfizer. Bayer and GSK will earn 160 and 100 million respectively with CureVac.