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Pfizer lifts sales forecast for COVID-19 vaccine to $26 billion

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FILE PHOTO: Serbia continues mass vaccination of its citizens against COVID-19 © Reuters/MARKO DJURICA FILE PHOTO: Serbia continues mass vaccination of its citizens against COVID-19

(Reuters) -Pfizer Inc on Tuesday forecast $26 billion in sales of the COVID-19 vaccine this year, an increase of more than 70% from its last projection and a reflection of the growing global vaccination drive.

The vaccine, which it co-developed with Germany's BioNTech SE, generated $3.5 billion in revenue in the first quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $3.28 billion, according to six analysts polled by Refinitiv.

"Based on what we've seen, we believe that a durable demand for our COVID-19 vaccine – similar to that of the flu vaccines – is a likely outcome," Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in his prepared remarks ahead of the conference call.

Cost and gross profit from the vaccine are split 50-50 between Pfizer and BioNTech. The raised goal assumes 1.6 billion vaccine doses will be delivered in the year.

The U.S. drugmaker had previously forecast sales of $15 billion. It now expect to manufacture at least 3 billion doses of the vaccine next year.

The two-dose vaccine has shown an efficacy rate of more than 90% in late-stage trials, on par with Moderna Inc's vaccine but higher than the rates seen from AstraZeneca plc and Johnson & Johnson.

Moderna has forecast $18.4 billion in 2021 sales of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer has said it expects to profit from the vaccine, while some drugmakers including Johnson & Johnson have said their vaccine will be available on a not-for-profit basis until the end of the pandemic.

Shares the company was up 1.5% in premarket trading.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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