Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Pfizer said its vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue so far this year.,


Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

Credit…The New York Times

Pfizer always planned to make a profit off its Covid-19 vaccine.

Unlike several of its rivals, which vowed to forgo vaccine profits during the pandemic, Pfizer made no such promise. Its bet seems to have paid off.

Today, the company announced that its coronavirus vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue during the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of the company’s total revenue. The company expects to make about $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter.

Pfizer has been widely credited with developing a previously unproven technology that has saved an untold number of lives, report our colleague Rebecca Robbins and Peter Goodman. But so far, the company’s vaccine has disproportionately gone to rich countries — despite its chief executive’s pledge to ensure that poorer countries “have the same access as the rest of the world.”

Pfizer has shipped 430 million doses to 91 countries or territories, but it has declined to say how many of those doses have gone to poorer nations, where Pfizer has said it is not profiting on vaccine sales.

As of last month, wealthy countries had secured more than 87 percent of Covid-19 vaccines, while poor countries had received only 0.2 percent. That imbalance has produced a stark contrast. In many of the wealthiest nations, virus cases are subsiding and their economies are poised to come roaring back to life. In poorer nations, particularly India and countries in South America, cases are spiraling out of control.

The surge in cases has put pressure on the Biden administration to increase the global vaccine supply by loosening patent and intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines.

Proponents of the idea say that the president has a moral imperative to act, and that lifting the protections would free up countries to make their own vaccines. The pharmaceutical industry counters that rolling back intellectual property protections would not help ramp up vaccine production — because there are other barriers, such as the years it can take to set up a new factory — and would undermine incentives to develop other vaccines in the future.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser for the pandemic, said that the drugmakers should expand manufacturing capacity to supply vaccines to other nations at “an extremely diminished price” or let the developing world make cheap copies.

“I always respect the needs of the companies to protect their interests to keep them in business, but we can’t do it completely at the expense of not allowing vaccine that’s lifesaving to get to the people that need it,” Fauci said. “You can’t have people throughout the world dying because they don’t have access to a product that rich people have access to.”

Opinion. Walden Bello, a co-founder of Focus on the Global South, says that Biden should grant the patent waivers and not worry about political blowback. Our columnist Michelle Goldberg agrees, writing that it would stem new variants and reassert U.S. global leadership.

A bad sign. The vaccine gap presents an object lesson for climate change, signaling the failure of richer nations to urgently help poorer ones fight a global crisis with implications for the entire species.

New York City is set to relax most coronavirus rules for businesses starting on May 19. That will pave the way for more crowded offices and restaurants, a more vibrant nightlife and more cultural and religious gatherings for the first time in a year.

But are New Yorkers ready? Times reporters fanned out across the city to take their temperatures, and found that people reacted to the news with equal measures of happiness and wariness.

“It doesn’t quite feel real,” said Charlie Cloud, a high school sophomore from Manhattan. “We’ve lived like this for quite a long time, this happened all a little fast.”

Natasha Reich, a recent graduate of Barnard College, said that reopening “seems a little hasty,” and that she would continue to behave in a way that felt right for her. “It’s been less about rules than about the feelings,” she said. “Sitting indoors makes me feel weird, and I think I’ll feel weird for a while.”

The reopening is far from universal. Most Broadway theaters will remain closed until September, and many of the city’s larger corporations plan to bring back workers slowly.

New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut are planing to lift almost all of their pandemic restrictions around the same time. Some people doubted the safety and logic of the states’ reopening, while others were already making plans for a shift back to normal life.

“It’s almost like love is in the air,” George Mercado, a florist in Jersey City, said. “For the past year and a half, we’ve done a lot of funerals, a lot of funerals. Now we’re finally doing a lot of baby arrangements and weddings.”

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents ages 12 to 15 by early next week.

  • The E.U.’s drug regulator has begun a rolling review of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, which is made in China.

  • Hong Kong backpedaled on a plan to require vaccinations for all foreign domestic workers after sharp criticism from foreign diplomatic missions and some residents, who called the requirement discriminatory.

  • Maryland will give $100 to state employees who are fully vaccinated, The Washington Post reports.

See how the vaccine rollout is going in your county and state.

I am a junior in college. Out of my seven classes, only one is in-person. I’m a theater major and before the pandemic, I was confident in my career field. Now, I’m not so sure. The passion I once had is gone, and I can’t help but worry that it is never going to come back. My department sends out recordings of productions and I can barely sit through 20 minutes of them. None of them ever feel like theater to me. I no longer feel a part of a community that I once cherished.

— Abby Boglioli, Syracuse, N.Y.

Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.

Email your thoughts to

Leave a Reply