Pfizer: COVID reputation will keep competitive edge for RSV vax and beyond

Pfizer says its manufacturing and marketing prowess, driven by COVID-era branding, will keep it ahead in a reinvigorated vaccine market.

Dan Stanton, Managing editor

September 29, 2023

3 Min Read
Pfizer: COVID reputation will keep competitive edge for RSV vax and beyond
DepositPhotos/ rafapress

Pfizer says its manufacturing and marketing prowess, driven by COVID-era branding, will keep it ahead in a reinvigorated vaccine market.

For vaccines, Pfizer – which along with just a handful of players (GSK, Sanofi, and Merck & Co.) has historically been dominant in the space – furthered its presence in the sector through the rapid development, production, and rollout of its COVID-19 jab.

But beyond bettering Pfizer’s fortunes, the pandemic helped open up the traditionally closed vaccine market with new modalities (primarily mRNA) and entrants effectively ‘democratizing’ the space.



To stay ahead in the vaccine market, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told delegates at the Cantor Fitzgerald Annual Global Health Conference this week that beyond the science, manufacturing, distribution, and reputation will keep his firm competitive.

“The science is very important. You need good science to be able to make good vaccines that will get, as a result, good reputation. Those vaccines are based on data, objective data, CDC recommend them when you have good science,” he said. “But clearly, a lot of these vaccines now are having challenges to be manufactured and our ability to be good at manufacturing is always a very strong sign for vaccines.”

He cited disruptions in the market, particularly for flu vaccines, and noted Pfizer’s historic reliability in manufacturing – further honed during the pandemic – will keep it competitive when it comes to new vaccines, including Abrysvo.

Abrysvo is a bivalent prefusion F (RSVpreF) vaccine approved for lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) and severe LRTD due to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in the US in May, and in the EU in August.

“There are a lot of new vaccines that are coming out but RSV, I think, is the one that really didn’t exist before, together with COVID,” said Bourla. “Clearly, there are new flu vaccines that are coming. Clearly, we have in pneumococcal vaccines now out with the pentavalent. Clearly, there is Prevnar, the pneumococcal vaccine that is getting trendy.

“But the RSV is the new one. The RSV is the one that creates a new market right now. It is a little bit early to see the dynamics of the RSV market, but it looks like it’s a really strong demand right now for RSV vaccines.”

The ‘Pfizer’ vaccine

Bourla spoke too about Pfizer’s strong relations with the channels used to bring vaccines to patients, specifically physicians’ offices, health care centers, and the retail space.

But he also noted how branding in the wake of the pandemic is playing its part in keeping Pfiizer competitive.

“The vaccines have become known not by name but by the manufacturer. Nobody remembers Spikevax, the name of] Moderna’s vaccine. I know that it’s called the Moderna COVID vaccine. And our COVID vaccine, it is Comirnaty, but nobody knows. Everybody calls it the Pfizer COVID. The brand name is extremely important and – in the preference of the people – and we have seen that.

“For example, Pfizer’s brand name is very strong. Everybody knows Pfizer is actually the strongest of all pharmaceutical companies ever in the history because of what happened during COVID. Everybody in the world recognize the name Pfizer. And 60% have very favorable opinion about the brand of Pfizer. It’s a very big competitive advantage.”

As such, the brand name Abrysvo is so-far playing second fiddle to the ‘Pfizer RSV’ vaccine in terms of nomenclature, he said.

About the Author(s)

Dan Stanton

Managing editor

Journalist covering the international biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing industries.

Founder and editor of Bioprocess Insider, a daily news offshoot of publication Bioprocess International, with expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, in particular, the following niches: CROs, CDMOs, M&A, IPOs, biotech, bioprocessing methods and equipment, drug delivery, regulatory affairs and business development.

From London, UK originally but currently based in Montpellier, France through a round-a-bout adventure that has seen me live and work in Leeds (UK), London, New Zealand, and China.

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