Following Germany’s news that it will start offering Covid booster shots from September, the pharmaceutical companies responsible for delivering them are set to generate an income high enough to rival the US flu vaccine market, reported Reuters.
The medical firms had previously warned that a third booster shot might be needed to keep up levels of protection and combat new variants of the virus, such as the highly transmissible Delta variant currently spreading throughout Europe.
The additional shots will be carried out with one of the two mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna – and administered by local GPs and mobile vaccination teams.
Pfizer, along with its German partner BioNTech, and Moderna have made over $60 billion in sales of the shots in 2021 and 2022.
Agreements to supply the initial two doses of their vaccines are set to be bolstered by the third jab.
Analysts have made revenue forecasts of over $6.6 billion for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and $7.6 billion for Moderna in 2023 – which is reportedly to mostly come from booster sales.
Longer-term predictions peg the annual market at around $5 billion or higher, as more medical companies compete.
Germany joins other governments in offering an extra jab to the elderly or those vulnerable to disease, who have been shown to be much more at risk of death or hospitalisation from Covid, and people with chronic conditions that might affect their immune systems.
A booster shot will also be offered to anyone who received the two-dose AstraZeneca or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines “in the interests of preventative healthcare”, according to a document released by Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn.
Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are viral vector vaccines, which teaches the body how to make copies of the spike proteins found in Covid-19. If you are exposed to the real virus later, your body will recognise it and know how to fight it off.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use novel mRNA technology, whereby “small, harmless fragments of the COVID-19 virus” are presented to immune cells, so they “learn how to recognise and attack the virus”, according to BioNTech’s description of the vaccine.
mRNA vaccines have shown high efficacy in studies.
Anyone vaccinated with either of these shots in Germany will likely have the chance to a get a top-up jab at their local GP’s office from September onwards.
German authorities have stressed, however, that the additional jab is entirely optional, and that it should be taken at least six months after the last vaccine dose was administered.
As many people in Germany – especially younger people – have only recently been vaccinated, it will be some time still before they get their top-up.
Despite Germany’s currently relatively low infection rates compared with neighbouring countries, case numbers have been rising slightly in recent weeks mainly because of the more contagious Delta variant.
There are also concerns about a slowdown in the country’s vaccination rate, with just over 56 percent of the population fully immunised, according to latest government figures.