On Friday, Pfizer executives forecast that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be behind us until 2024.
In a presentation to investors, Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said the company expects some regions to continue to see pandemic levels of COVID-19, which should subside in the next year or two.
By 2024, the disease should be at endemic levels around the globe, the company projected, according to a report from CNBC.
“When and how exactly this happens will depend on the evolution of the disease, how effectively society deploys vaccines and treatments, and equitable distribution to places where vaccination rates are low. The emergence of new variants could also impact how the pandemic continues to play out,” Dolsten said in his presentation.
Pfizer developed its COVID-19 vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech and currently expects it to generate $31 billion in revenue next year. The company plans to manufacture 4 billion doses in 2022.
Pfizer also has an experimental antiviral pill called Paxlovid. The drug appears to have reduced hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk individuals by nearly 90% in a clinical trial. The company has projected more than $15 billion per year in revenue with the new Paxlovid drug.
Pfizer’s forecast comes in the face of the Omicron variant, which began to surge last month. Omicron has more than 50 mutations compared with the original version of the coronavirus. The variant has reduced the effectiveness of two doses of the vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech have previously stated that they are developing a version of their vaccine tailored to combat the Omicron variant. The company expects to start a clinical trial for the updated vaccine in January.
Variant-specific shots would likely boost sales starting in 2022.
The Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in more than 85 countries and has now spread to roughly one-third of U.S. states.
Pfizer’s vaccine was around 95% effective in the adult clinical trial. However, the company said immunity wanes just months after the second dose. According to early research, three doses of the shot may be necessary to protect against Omicron and other future variants.
Before the Omicron variant’s appearance, Dr. Anthony Fauci forecast the pandemic would end in 2022 in the United States.