Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla on CNBC’s “The Exchange” (M-F, 1PM-2PM ET) today, Tuesday, November 2nd. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com:
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Pfizer CEO Is 'Optimistic' On Covid Vaccine For Kids Under Age Five
MEG TIRRELL: Hey Kelly. Well, a big beat for Pfizer in the quarter, a lot of that of course driven by their COVID-19 vaccine that beating both for the third quarter expectations and for the forecast for the full year, which Pfizer now raised to delivering 2.3 billion doses contract signed, equating to about $36 billion in expected revenue for the vaccine in 2021. Now looking forward to next year, they have capacity to make 4 billion doses. They've signed contracts as of now for 1.7 billion and say they of course can do more, that equates to $29 billion in forecast revenue. $7 billion dollars more than the street was already looking for. Of course, as you said, kids ages five to 11 could be just hours away from becoming eligible to get vaccinated here in the United States. So, joining us to discuss that and a lot more is Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Albert, thanks for being with us. Let's start on the CDC meeting and potentially expanding vaccine eligibility to kids down to age five, a really huge day potentially. What message do you have for parents who are weighing whether to get this vaccine for their young kids?
ALBERT BOURLA: It's a very positive message. I think everybody's waiting for it and there are a lot of parents that they are in anxiety because they see that the kids aren’t protected. Themselves, they are protected, but not the kids. And now hopefully CDC also will put the last time to very efficacious, very safe option.
TIRRELL: What is Pfizer expecting in terms of the uptake here among this age group? It has, have you guys done any market research to try to understand what the demand is gonna be like?
BOURLA: I haven't seen any data on market research particularly for this demand. But I think I know that the US government has placed orders with us that basically covers every kid of this country so I think the supply will be there. And hopefully a lot of kids will benefit from it.
TIRRELL: Of course, there are also questions about when there'll be data for even younger children. You gave some timelines on that today, ages two to, up to age five by the end of the year and ages six months up to two in the first quarter of next year. Is that a little later than you had expected? Are those trials going a little more slowly or is FDA asking for more information? Is that pushed back a bit?
BOURLA: I don’t think they're going slower. I think always we were expecting to have by the end of the year they started from the two to five, and those will be the efficacy studies. And FDA is asking more safety data has already asked us and then we are ramping up the numbers but that will not affect I think the timing of the efficacy because like will be, will read out on time and say we may have to accumulate some more data to submit to the FDA.
KELLY EVANS: Albert, it’s Kelly here.
BOURLA: Hi Kelly.
EVANS: Meg and I both have very small children, so I think we're both personally interested in this but how much more dangerous is the Delta variant than the Alpha or other variants for small children? And how does that play into the benefits of or risk of giving them a COVID vaccine? Can you just sort of tell me where are they in terms of being in danger in the first place? Because obviously, I can't really mask up, you know, a two-year-old.
BOURLA: Yeah, of course you can and are you asking because the two to five or the five to 11?
EVANS: More in the two to five and even the under two range.
BOURLA: Yes. Well, you know, the kids that they are, this is a disease that is exposing people in the individuals and kids if they are in social settings. So kids, the moment they start going to the playgrounds and the moment they start going to, to, to kids facilities, they’re exposed. The same is with, with schools and we have seen even severe cases in these kids. I have spoken to several pediatricians that they, they spoke to me about how many they had to, to take care in a hospital setting. So, I think the risk is there. It’s very, very clear. I think the vaccine will be very safe. What I think we need to see in this is the doses that we are using it, it will be also effective. I'm very optimistic that it will be. Keep in mind that for these kids who are using two micrograms of RNA. Compare that to 30 micrograms of RNA for the adults. So it's a very, very, very small dose. We believe that this very, very small dose, clearly will be very effective, I think will also be very clear that it will be very safe, I think also will be very effective and this is what we are waiting to see.
TIRRELL: Albert, it's Meg. Just clarifying, is it three micrograms or two micrograms for those younger kids?
BOURLA: It is two micrograms. And I hope I’m not making a mistake but I think it is two micrograms.
TIRRELL: Alright even lower than I thought. Either way, it's much smaller than for adults. I wanted to ask you also about your COVID antiviral drug. We saw some very positive results from Merck already, some not positive results from another company, Atea partnered with Roche, although different trial designs. How are you anticipating what those mean for the success of Pfizer's drug, and are you looking at potentially combining your oral COVID pill with Merck’s, or even with Fluvoxamine, the antidepressant for which we saw a positive data recently?
BOURLA: First of all, I've seen the data of Merck and I congratulate them. These are great data, the 50% efficacy that they have reported. I think it is a significant contribution and I wish them best luck in, in their deliberations, submitting the data to the FDA, etc. Our studies are ongoing, and we expect that we will have a readout on the efficacy likely before the end of the year. We have three studies ongoing. The first study is very similar to what Merck has presented which is the high-risk population. We have two additional studies. The first one of the two additional it is in standard risk so people that they do not have comorbidities or other type of diseases and over there, we are also doing it to vaccinated people which is to my knowledge the only study currently in this type of population and we are expecting the scientific results of that with high interest. Also, we are doing in house, household contacts which is we are giving people that they have disease, we are giving not only to them but we are giving also to the people that they are living in the household as a prevention for them, treatment for the one that has gotten the disease and as prevention to the others and also we are looking with high interest to see the results of that. Those studies will come in the first quarter I think of next year. If the studies are positive and will have high efficacy, we have already approved an investment of a billion dollars late in late summer and we already are manufacturing. So, I hope we are successful because we need options. And we will have this only, even this year if we're successful.
TIRRELL: I also wanted to ask you about something you mentioned on the conference call which was, you know, you've got a capacity to make 4 billion doses next year. Right now, 1.7 billion doses of contracts already set up. You kind of warned that we could be in a similar situation where low- and middle-income countries are not placing orders soon enough to get in the queue. Tell us about that dynamic. Are you worried we're gonna continue to see this just stark inequity in vaccine access leading into next year and what more can be done about that?
BOURLA: I’m worried that's why I made the public statements. Look what happened last year, as I said multiple times, we gave different prices and those that they had high-income countries one level of price, but the middle-income half the price and the low-income countries of course, but only the high-income countries placed orders in the beginning. And then I send letters in private to the heads of states because I saw it that we will have a situation that people will say only high-income countries are getting and not low-income countries. They didn't respond positively to that they didn't place orders. Then after things were settled and we had great success and others didn’t really manufacture as well so everybody asked from us but then all the first half of the year doses have already been allocated to high-income countries. So now in the second half, we are sending a lot to low-income countries and middle-income countries and by the end of the year, which is in a month and a half or let's say two months, we will have sent more than a billion dollars to middle- and low-income countries. But now we are coming to 2022 and there are some governors that they are more proactive and I’m afraid again the high-income countries are the proactive governments that are placing their orders and the low- or middle-income countries, they don't and we do have the capacity to give them and of course at these prices as I said non-for-profit at the low-income countries, severely discounted in the middle-income countries, but they should demonstrate the accountability and place the orders because the first half of 2022 again, we will allocate it very rapidly.
TIRRELL: Alright Albert, thanks so much for joining us. So much news coming up and we hope we'll get to see you again soon. Thanks.
BOURLA: Thank you. Thank you very much.