Recently, various COVID-19 vaccine companies have announced their latest results. According to the information delivered by the results, the competition pattern of the vaccine industry is changing with the large-scale vaccination of COVID-19 vaccine around the world, new vaccine companies are rising, and the role of traditional vaccine giants is being rewritten.
Before the emergence of COVID-19 vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Merck, Sanofi and Pfizer were the “big four” in the global vaccine industry, among which GSK and Merck held the first and second positions respectively. After the emergence of the COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has become the world’s no.1 vaccine company and is on its way to becoming the world’s “medicine king”.
Not willing to be left behind, the vaccine giants are brewing another big attack. On August 3, Sanofi announced that it plans to buy Translate Bio, a mRNA therapy company, for $3.2 billion to increase its focus on COVID-19 vaccine development.
Industry competition pattern changes
Vaccine is a powerful weapon to prevent the transmission of novel CORONAVIRUS. Since the emergence of COVID-19, pharmaceutical companies have been rapidly engaged in the development of novel coronavirus vaccine. Now, a number of novel coronavirus vaccines have been launched in the world, covering different technical routes such as inactivated vaccine, adenovirus vector and mRNA vaccine.
Companies that succeed in developing COVID-19 vaccines first will be rewarded handfuls.
According to Pfizer’s recent q2 2021 results, the company’s revenue jumped 86% in the second quarter thanks to its partnership with BioNTech, which generated $7.9 billion in revenue for its COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, BNT162b.
Including the first quarter, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine sales in the first half of 2021 were $11.3 billion, far ahead of other COVID-19 vaccine companies, and the vaccine is in the process of overtaking “Schumerer” as the world’s best-selling blockbuster drug.
It is worth mentioning that it took only 7.5 months for the vaccine to be declared for emergency use.
Pfizer expects sales of the vaccine to reach 33.5 billion yuan by year-end. There is speculation that Pfizer could become the world’s largest pharmaceutical company in terms of revenue in 2021 thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition to Pfizer, astrazeneca, another multinational pharmaceutical company, reported $1.17 billion in revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021.
In addition to multinational pharmaceutical companies, Chinese vaccine companies are rapidly emerging with the help of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to consino (688185.SH, 06185.HK) recently released the performance forecast, the company is expected to achieve operating revenue in the first half of 2021 2 billion yuan to 2.2 billion yuan; The net profit attributable to the owner of the parent company was RMB 900 million to RMB 1.05 billion, which was a turnround in net profit compared to the same period of the previous year.
Concino’s results were mainly attributable to sales of COVID-19 vaccines. The company said that during the reporting period, the company’s recombinant Novel Coronavirus vaccine (adenovirus vector type 5) has been authorized for emergency use in Mexico, Pakistan and other countries as well as the conditional listing approval in China, which has a positive impact on the company’s main business income and the net profit attributable to the owner of the parent company.
In addition, China Biopharmaceutical Co., LTD. (01177.HK), which holds a stake in China’s COVID-19 vaccine company, indirectly disclosed in its first-quarter report in May that the company’s overall first-quarter profit was nearly 10 billion yuan, exceeding market expectations.
The traditional giants are on the offensive
Among the traditional vaccine giants, apart from Pfizer, the other three giants — GSK, Merck and Sanofi — are more or less lagging behind in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
In this wave of COVID-19 vaccine development boom, the value of the mRNA vaccine technology route has been released and is sought after by the market. The principle of mRNA vaccine is to directly inject the mRNA encoding antigen protein into human cells, and use human cells to produce protein antigen to activate immune response. It has a great application prospect in infectious diseases, cancer and some rare diseases. It is with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine that Pfizer has consolidated its dominant position in the vaccine field.
Prior to COVID-19, Sanofi and Translate Bio entered into a collaborative and exclusive licensing agreement in June 2018 to develop the mRNA vaccine. Unfortunately, Sanofi, which has a first-mover advantage in the development of mRNA vaccines, has not yet been able to overtake in the industry with the help of mRNA vaccines.
Sanofi is now brewing a counterattack, accelerating its presence in the mRNA field. On August 3, the Company announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Translate Bio to acquire all outstanding shares of Translate Bio for $38.00 per share, valued at approximately $3.2 billion.
It is not just Sanofi that is trying to turn the tables on GSK. In June it announced plans to spin off its consumer-health business to focus on vaccines and specialty drugs.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, GSK had been the world’s largest vaccine market for years, with a portfolio of recombinant shingles virus vaccines, seasonal influenza vaccines, meningitis vaccines and other blockbuster products. Since starting to supply vaccines in the 1960s, the company has licensed more than 30 vaccines to prevent 20 diseases and supplies about 1 billion doses a year.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, GSK has worked with a number of companies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, but it has not gotten off to a good start. In July 2020, GSK announced a partnership with CureVac to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize up to five mRNA vaccines and monoclonal antibodies against infectious disease pathogens. On June 17, 2021, CureVac announced that the results of the second interim analysis of the phase 2B /3 study of its mRNAnovel Coronavirus candidate vaccine showed an efficacy of only 47%, failing to meet the pre-specified criteria for statistical success. CureVac responded that it would continue to work with GSK to develop the next-generation vaccine and would continue to enlist the support of external contractors to facilitate the process.
GSK, which missed out on COVID-19 vaccines, reported revenue of £1.6bn in the second quarter of 2021, up 39 per cent year on year, but its star vaccine, shingles, generated £295m, below market expectations. A test for GSK remains how to maintain its dominant position in the vaccine industry.
The industry is still changing
The mutated novel coronavirus has added difficulty to the prevention and control of the epidemic. At this time, the Delta mutant virus is coming in a threatening manner, and the epidemic situation is in an emergency around the world.
According to the World Health Organization, compared to other non-VOC and older strains, the transmission rate of Delta virus has nearly doubled, while the incubation period and passage interval have been shortened. Without strong prevention and control interventions and vaccine immunity to prevent transmission, the doubling rate of outbreaks would be significant.
Recently, the issue of vaccine protection rate, the market attention.
On August 3, the National Health Commission of China (NHC) responded in detail to the question of the durability of the vaccine protection rate on the official wechat account “Healthy China”. “, according to the existing data and conventional vaccines, new crown after vaccination, as the extension of time, the vaccinated antibody levels in the body goes down, the entire 6 months after immunization, 18 to 59 years old people and people over the age of 60, all kinds of vaccine target dose group of neutralizing antibody level will probably have a range of 1.4 to 12.4 times the decline, but the antibody levels drop, It doesn’t mean that the protection doesn’t exist. It goes down to the level where the protection goes away. We’re still collecting data.”
Pharmaceutical companies are still working to develop a new coronavirus vaccine. For example, among the listed Chinese COVID-19 vaccine companies, Consino chairman and CEO Yu Xuefeng said at a conference in Qingdao on June 2 that the nasal spray/inhaled COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the company has now entered phase II clinical trials.
Wu Ke, founder and CEO of Wuhan Bovo, told China Business News that global scientists have been deepening their understanding of the Novel Coronavirus for more than a year, and this new knowledge needs to be further applied to vaccine development. As for how to improve the development of COVID-19 vaccine, there are still several directions that can be explored. First, the development of enhanced vaccine products should be based on the existing vaccine products. Second, the development of cocktail vaccine, that is, the development of multi-combination vaccine based on the mixing of old and new strains; Third, the development of new adjuvant vaccines. Adjuvants refer to substances added to vaccines that can enhance the immunogenicity of vaccine antigens. The experience of vaccine development in the past shows that adjuvants play an important role in the success of vaccine products. Fourth, the development of a broad-spectrum vaccine. Although the Novel coronavirus is in mutation, some of the antigens in the conserved regions of the virus remain unchanged, and a universal vaccine can be developed for these conserved regions.
“Existing vaccines do not provide complete protection against infection, especially against more infectious variants such as Delta, and there is a decline in protection. The development of universal vaccines needs to be accelerated, but there are still challenges to develop universal vaccines. It may be possible to explore new ways of administering the vaccine, such as nasal spray, by stimulating mucosal immunity to prevent the invasion of pathogens on the respiratory tract, or to improve the immunological prophylaxis effect of the vaccine.” A person from a company engaged in COVID-19 vaccine research and development told China Business News.
In the face of the mutated virus, there is still a huge market demand for the COVID-19 vaccine industry. It can be said that the changes in the vaccine industry are still continuing.