Misleading: Thanks to its COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer made a $24.1 billion profit in the third quarter of 2021.

By: Gayathri Loka
January 11 2022

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Misleading: Thanks to its COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer made a $24.1 billion profit in the third quarter of 2021.


The Verdict Misleading

Pfizer did make $24.1 billion in revenue in the third quarter. However, only 60 percent of that is due to vaccines.

Claim ID ac93b73e

Since the pandemic, many claims have stated pharmaceutical companies have been rolling out vaccines purely for profit and not to help stop COVID-19. Pfizer was one of the first companies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and has been subject to many baseless claims. Recent social media posts have stated that Pfizer made a $24.1 billion profit in the third quarter of 2021 for monetary gain and not to help fight the virus. The posts also compared 2021's profits to 2020.

Pfizer released its quarterly report on November 2, 2021. The report stated that the company's revenues for the third quarter of 2021 were $24.1 billion, reflecting 130 percent operational growth; excluding Comirnaty, revenues grew 7 percent operationally to $11.1 billion. (Comirnaty includes direct sales and alliance revenues related to sales of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE (BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccine, which are recorded within Pfizer's vaccines therapeutic area.) The report also compared the quarterly profit from 2020 to 2021:

"Third-quarter 2021 revenues totaled $24.1 billion, an increase of $13.8 billion, or 134 percent, compared to the prior-year quarter, reflecting operational growth of $13.4 billion, or 130 percent, as well as a favorable impact of foreign exchange of $421 million, or 4 percent," it read.

Bloomberg reported that Pfizer anticipates 2021 revenues of approximately $36 billion for Comirnaty. This would mean 2.3 billion doses are expected to be delivered in the 2021 fiscal year. According to CNN, vaccine sales alone were responsible for 60 percent of the profits as vaccine revenue rose to $14.6 billion from only $1.7 billion a year earlier. Pfizer told CNN that "The company said its COVID vaccine sales accounted for $13 billion of that revenue. Revenue outside of its Covid vaccine business was up a far more modest 7 percent."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that vaccines were paid for with taxpayer dollars and will be given free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Vaccination providers can seek appropriate reimbursement from the recipient's plan or program (e.g. private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid) for a vaccine administration fee. However, providers cannot charge the vaccine recipient the bill's balance. On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer's vaccine, not just for emergency use authorization (EUA). The vaccine is also available under emergency use EUA for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for administering a third dose in specific immunocompromised individuals. The vaccine has gone through clinical trials and is proven safe and effective in fighting against COVID-19.

CORRECTION 20/12/2021: We have altered this post to clarify the original claim that Pfizer's profit increase was due to sales of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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