13 vaccine manufacturing companies you need to know

daniel-tischler

Daniel Tischler

December 4, 2023

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The Covid-19 pandemic not only highlighted the importance of the vaccine manufacturing industry, but also altered the makeup of companies within the industry.

In this article, we have chosen thirteen key players in vaccine manufacturing that have dedicated their resources to the immunization against different diseases that saved millions of lives. These include the 10 vaccine manufacturers with the highest turnover in 2021 and 3 emerging companies that may soon be included in this selection.

In the following we will take a closer look at those vaccine companies, name the vaccines they developed and manufactured, their financial standings and where their projects are headed in the future.

Vaccine manufacturing companies overview

While the success of many of these pharmaceutical companies is connected to vaccine development during the recent coronavirus pandemic, the main aim of this article is an overview of the most influential and top-selling biotech companies in vaccine production.

The companies with the highest turnover in 2021 are listed from 1 to 10. The other providers from 11 to 13 were selected for their potential to break into the top 10 soon. However, with the industry’s tendency to constantly change, the names on the list might change in the future.

  1. Pfizer
  2. BioNTech
  3. Sinovac
  4. Moderna
  5. Merck
  6. GSK
  7. Sanofi 
  8. Zhifei
  9. AstraZeneca
  10. Johnson & Johnson
  11. Bavarian Nordic
  12. Inovio
  13. Novavax

1 Pfizer

The company was founded by two chemists and entrepreneurs from Germany with one of its main locations in New York and has a long history in the development and mass production of different therapeutics like penicillin. Pfizer’s latest success, which put the company’s name on everyone’s map, was the Covid-19 vaccine. The fast development and manufacturing of the mRNA vaccine COMIRNATY was made possible through a partnership between Pfizer-BioNTech and propelled the Pfizer’s earning to $100 billion a year.1 There are also a number of other vaccines in the pipeline, including meningococcal disease, influenza, Lyme disease, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and C difficile. In 2022, Pfizer announced the buy of Biohaven, a company whose portfolio entails the FDA approved migraine preventative Nurtec.1 

2 BioNTech

BioNTech (Biopharmaceutical New Technologies) developed the first mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 approved for human use by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Through their collaboration, BioNTech-Pfizer were able to administer vaccine doses rapidly during the pandemic all over the world. BioNTech’s main research point lay in mRNA therapeutics against different cancers and immunotherapy for decades before the first effective vaccine against Covid-19 got approval. The biotechnology company has its main location in Mainz, Germany and has currently completed phase 1 of the clinical trial for a malaria vaccine. Total revenues for the second quarter of 2023 amount to €167.7 million.2 

3 Sinovac

Sinovac is located in China. The company has a strong focus on vaccine manufacturing and has released effective vaccines for the immunization against infectious diseases like hepatitis A and B, as well as the influenza-A virus. Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine against the Covid-19 virus was first administered to Chinese healthcare professionals and adapted by countries with lower and middle-income. Different from the European Biontech-Pfizer vaccine, CoronaVac was designed with the traditional inactivated virus technology. Like most other vaccine manufacturers, Sinovac announced losses in the first half of 2023 compared to $691.3 million earnings in the year before.

4 Moderna

Moderna’s success didn’t begin with its Covid-19 vaccine, which was among the first to be approved by the FDA in 2020. The Massachusetts based company specializes in the discovery and development of messenger RNA biologics. Or, as the name implies, to “mode RNA”. The company announced $1.8 billion total revenue for the third quarter of 20233 with decreases due to the decrease of the recent pandemic. Current projects in the pipeline include a combined vaccine against Covid-19 and influenza, as well as other flu vaccines, all on the basis of mRNA research.3 

5 Merck

Merck & Co. is American based and was founded in the late 19th century in New York City as the American arm of the European Merck Group. Since then, it acted as an independent pharmaceutical company with a focus on vaccines, medicine, and animal health products. Even though Merck could not keep up with the pace of its competitors from Europe and China for the Covid-19 vaccine, the company still holds the place as one of the most important vaccine manufacturers today. This is, among others, due to Gardasil, Merck’s HPV vaccine that had $3.9 billion revenue as well as the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine, MMR. Further, Merck is involved in the production of various drug products like Ketyruda, a humanized antibody, which is used in oncology.

6 GSK

GSK plc (formerly known as GlaxoSmithKline) is a British company with headquarters in London and manufacturing sites in Europe, North America and Asia. Although a planned partnership with Sanofi for a Covid-19 shot failed, GSK remains one of the most important players in vaccine manufacturing. One important factor for its success is the joint venture with Novartis, as well as a plant-based Covid-19 vaccine through a collaboration with Medicago in the beginning of 2023 which was administered in Canada and the U.S. GSK overtook the shingles vaccine market with Shingrix.

Steps in vaccine manufacturing & what support is needed?

7 Sanofi

Sanofi, the French based pharma company, announced earnings of €43 billion Euros in 2022. As mentioned earlier, the collaboration with GSK for a Covid-19 vaccine did not show fruitful results. Still, Sanofi’s business remains intact. The Sanofi group is mostly known for its vaccines against polio, haemophilus influenza type B and pertussis. Immunization projects in Sanofi’s pipeline are vaccines for yellow fever, rabies and more.

8 Zhifei

Zhifei and GSK announced their partnership in 2023 to expand shingles vaccines. The company based in Chongqing, China, is mostly known for its collaboration with Merck for its blockbuster HPV vaccine Gardasil which soon became a major stilt of their business. Further, the partnership resulted in the rotavirus vaccine called Rotateq and hepatitis A vaccine, Vaqta. Zhifei also developed a Covid-19 vaccine that was authorized by the Chinese government in 2021. In September 2023, the company reported earnings of CNY 39,271.72 million.4 

9 AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, was among the first vaccines to enter the market in 2021. Due to safety concerns over seldomly occurring blood clots, many European countries put a halt on the suspension of the Anglo-Swedish pharma company’s Covid-19 shot, even though the vaccine was continually recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The company’s main focus today lies in the development and manufacturing of DNA based drugs and recombinant antibodies. In AstraZeneca’s immunization pipeline are Beyfortus, a passive RSV immunization, as well as a vaccine for the prevention of Covid-19 called AZD3153 SUPERNOVA. 9 month sales added up to $32,466 million, as announced by AstraZeneca in November 2023. 

10 Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is an American pharmaceutical corporation that is one of the biggest and most successful in the world. Although their one-shot Covid-19 vaccine which used traditional inactivated vaccine technology only showed an effect rate of 66 %, this fact still remains untouched. Another complication that added to the Covid-19 failure was added by production short passes by their partner Emergent BioSolutions, a partnership that was cancelled in 2022. Among many other drug products, Johnson & Johnson developed and manufactured the ebola vaccine Ad26. ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo, which shows good success rates. The company expects earnings of $84 billion in 20235, with $457 million from Covid-19 shots. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson concentrates on the development of vaccines against HIV, Zika and Influenza.

After presenting the 10 strongest vaccine manufacturers by sales, we will present 3 more emerging companies that have promising potential to be in the list of the 10 strongest manufacturers soon.5 

11 Bavarian Nordic

Bavarian Nordic is a biotechnology company from Denmark which specializes in the manufacturing of vaccines against infectuous diseases and cancer immunotherapies. The company’s vaccine portfolio includes Encepur, a tick-borne encephalitis vaccine, JYNNEUS, IMVAMUNE, IMVANEX, vaccines against chicken- and monkeypox, as well as Rabipur, a rabies vaccine, Vaxchora, cholera vaccine and Vivotif, a Typhoid vaccine. Earning diagnostics for 2023 are DKK 2, 300 million, with DKK 555 million from rabies vaccine sellings. In Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine pipeline are a Chikungunya virus VLP vaccine, as well as a vaccine against potentially deadly viruses infections caused by mosquitos.

12 Inovio

Inovio Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company based in the U.S. that specializes in synthetic DNA drug products for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases. The Covid-19 shot developed by Inovio showed significantly low antibody rates, which was why the project was discontinued in 2022. Still, Innovio has several promising vaccine trials in their pipeline. Among them is a Covid-19 booster shot, vaccines against ebola, influenza, head and neck cancer, as well as glioblastoma. The drugmaker posted revenue of $388,400 in the third quarter of 2023.6 

13 Novavax

Novavax is an American company based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that specializes in vaccines for various infectious diseases like RSV, ebola and influenza. Their Covid-19 shot, Nuvaxovid, was approved by the European Union in 2021, following Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. The company announced a net income of $58 million for the second quarter of 2023. Against predictions, due the reduced amount of Covid-19 shots sold, the Novavax was able to make profits instead of slight losses. There are currently influenza and Covid-19 vaccines with matrix M adjuvant in clinical trials.

RoSS.pFTU Mid Scale_In Process-4

How Single Use Support enhances vaccine manufacturing

The importance of reliable and quick vaccine production has now only shown itself in the recent Covid-19 pandemic, but has drawn the attention to the need for scalable and flexible production solutions.

Single Use Support has risen to the challenge by developing single-use components for the complete biopharmaceutical manufacturing process, from upstream to downstream bioprocessing to filling and dispensing. Single Use Support’s fully automated technology was designed for reliable cold-chain processes, adaptability to avoid bottlenecks and guaranteed product safety by minimizing the risk for contamination through human errors. This is why companies like Rentschler Biopharma7 rely on Single-Use Support in vaccine production — to guarantee the best possible products exactly when they are needed the most.7 

eBook: Filling Gaps in Managing Large Volumes of Biologics

Aseptic aliquotation and cryopreservation of drug substances are crucial process steps in bioprocessing. Even though they’re not in the spotlight of biomanufacturing. In drug development and drug delivery, biologics must be transferred at numerous occasions. Along the journey of monoclonal antibodies, vaccines and more, the drug substance passes lots of process steps where liquid transfer is required. This is relevant for the transitions between upstream processing, downstream processing and fill & finish, but also within these manufacturing milestones. The market of fluid & cold chain management has great growth potential and is on its way to professionalization and industrialization. To meet the challenges of manufacturing drug substances, Single Use Support helps manufacturers and CDMOs to advance their fluid & cold chain management process to achieve a secure and efficient process for liquids on the basis of single-use bags.
  1. Pfizer swings to quarterly loss due to Paxlovid, Covid vaccine write-offs, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/10/31/pfizer-pfe-q3-earnings-report-2023.html, Published 10/2023
  2. BioNTech Announces Second Quarter 2023 Financial Results and Corporate Update, https://investors.biontech.de/news-releases/news-release-details/biontech-announces-second-quarter-2023-financial-results-and/, Published 8/2023
  3. Moderna Reports Third Quarter 2023 Financial Results and Provides Business Updates, https://investors.modernatx.com/news/news-details/2023/Moderna-Reports-Third-Quarter-2023-Financial-Results-and-Provides-Business-Updates--/default.aspx#:~:text=The%20Company%27s%20pre%2Dlaunch%20activities,exchanges%20and%20public%20health%20engagements.&text=Revenue%3A%20Total%20revenue%20for%20the,the%20Company%27s%20COVID%2D19%20vaccine, Published 11/2023
  4. Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co., Ltd. Reports Earnings Results for the Nine Months Ended September 30, 2023, https://www.marketscreener.com/quote/stock/CHONGQING-ZHIFEI-BIOLOGIC-9061134/news/Chongqing-Zhifei-Biological-Products-Co-Ltd-Reports-Earnings-Results-for-the-Nine-Months-Ended-Se-45166666/, Published 10/2023
  5. Johnson & Johnson beats on earnings and hikes outlook as medtech, pharmaceutical sales surge, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/10/17/johnson-johnson-jnj-q3-earnings-report-2023.html, Published 10/2023
  6. INOVIO Reports First Quarter 2023 Financial Results and Operational Highlights, https://ir.inovio.com/news-releases/news-releases-details/2023/INOVIO-Reports-First-Quarter-2023-Financial-Results-and-Operational-Highlights/default.aspx, Published 5/2023
  7. Mit vereinten Kräften gegen SARS-CoV-2, https://www.rentschler-biopharma.com/de/aktuelles/pressemeldungen/detail/view/mit-vereinten-kraeften-gegen-sars-cov-2/#:~:text=Rentschler%20Biopharma%20wird%20den%20hochreinen,mRNA%2DImpfstoffs%20unterst%C3%BCtzen%20zu%20k%C3%B6nnen, Published 10/2020
daniel-tischler

Daniel Tischler

Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)

Daniel Tischler is Director Commercial Operations and Deputy of Chief Commercial Operations with experience in product line management, application engineer at Single Use Support.

Proximity to mechatronic systems and to customers were two constants for Daniel Tischler. At Single Use Support he started as a project manager. Later he provided customers technical insights as sales application engineer. Daniel was Head of Product Line Management working on new innovations for customers in the biopharmaceutical industry, before he has started as Director of Commercial Operations.

Daniel has gained 10+ years of expertise in design engineering and project management before he joined Single Use Support.

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