Pfizer Boss Earned $24.3 Million in 2021 and Other COVID-19 News


There is no doubt that Pfizer’s approach to COVID-19 has been a success: the first COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with BioNTech to be authorized in the United States, one of the predominant vaccines around the world, and a successful oral antiviral therapy, all without taking direct R&D funds from the government via Operation Warp Speed. And the company has benefitted handsomely, as has its chief architect, Albert Bourla. For that and more COVID-19 news, continue reading.

Pfizer’s Bourla Raked in $24.3 Million in Total Compensation in 2021

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla/courtesy

Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive officer, took home a salary of $1.69 million in 2021, with a cash incentive of $8 million and $13.2 million in stock and options. Throw in $1.38 million on other compensation and he received $24.3 million in total compensation, an increase of 15% from 2020. Bourla holds almost 597,000 shares in the company, worth more than $32 million. To Pfizer, he’s undoubtedly worth it, having helmed the company to be the first, with its partner BioNTech, to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. That vaccine alone generated $36.8 million in revenue last year, with $32 billion projected for 2022. Toss in another projected $22 billion for its COVID-19 antiviral regimen projected for this year, and Bourla led the company to stellar profitability.

COVID-19 Vaccine Market Getting Crowded

There are three authorized and/or approved COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Around the world, there are others, including AstraZenecaOxford, Sinovac, Sputnik V and a handful of others. Late to the market are Novavax and SanofiGlaxoSmithKline, while other companies are still regularly announcing preclinical and clinical results for their potential vaccines. But as new cases worldwide slow, is there a market for new vaccines?

“We think there’s likely going to be long-term ongoing demand for COVID vaccines, for boosters at least,” said Matt Linley, analytics director for London-based Airfinity. “But it will be a lot smaller than it is. We believe it’s kind of peaked.”

And a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. provided strong prevention against death and severe disease even though their efficacy wanes over time. They found it was 79% effective in preventing ventilation or death and that a single booster shot brought it up to 94%.

Tinnitus, a Rare Side Effect of COVID-19 Vaccines?

Tinnitus, or ringing or buzzing in one or both ears, might be a side effect of COVID-19 vaccines. Although there have been some reports, the CDC and vaccine makers who have investigated reports of tinnitus haven’t found evidence of cause and effect. A JAMA study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine analyzed 555 reports of hearing loss that may be linked to any of the three U.S. COVID-19 vaccines reported in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). However, the study didn’t find that hearing loss or other auditory problems were more common after vaccines than expected in the general population. A study of Israel found a slight increase in hearing problems after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but the reports are very rare.

Fauci Predict Increase in New Cases

As COVID-19 cases increase in Europe, primarily due to the rise of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant and relaxation of restrictions, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Biden administration’s chief COVID-19 advisor, predicts an “uptick” in cases in the U.S. that will echo those in Europe. He added, it is “no time at all to declare victory because this virus has fooled us before and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant. And we don’t want to be caught flat-footed on that.”

Dr. Fauci’s comments occur partly in the context of attempts by the Biden administration to convince Congress to continue funding COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. Dr. Fauci also added that an increase in BA.2 cases might not lead to a parallel surge in hospitalizations or deaths, similar to what is happening in Europe.

What We Know About Omicron BA.2

As mentioned above, another SARS-CoV-2 variant appears to be increasing in the U.S. and Europe. It is a subvariant, or sister variant of Omicron, dubbed BA.2. Its genetic sequence is different from that of the first Omicron variant, BA.1, and has sometimes been called a “stealth” variant because it isn’t easy to differentiate from the Delta variant. It now makes up about 23.1% of cases, up from 14.2% from the week ending March 5. It is more transmissible than BA.1, but it isn’t known if it causes severe illness. Nor is it known if it evades immunity from vaccines, previous illnesses or antibody therapies. Vaccines seem to be as effective against BA.2 as against BA.1, which generally means they don’t necessarily prevent infection but prevent severe illness and death. And they do believe that if you were infected by BA.1, you have good protection against BA.2.

AstraZeneca recently reported a study indicating that its antibody-based cocktail Evusheld effectively neutralizes BA.2. An earlier study said it was effective against BA.1.

Most COVID-19 Patients in a Coma Regain Consciousness

A new study by Boston and New York researchers found that most people who had severe COVID-19 and were off ventilators but still required life support, typically in a coma, regain consciousness. Daiwai Olson, PhD, a professor of neurology and director of the neuroscience nursing research center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said the study should be a “huge anxiety reducer” for families of COVID-19 patients in comas. “It gives nurses and physicians the confidence to tell families, ‘Look this can take several weeks.’ We have had moms who want to stay at the bedside, and we can tell them go home and take a shower, it may take three weeks” for the patient to regain consciousness. It also supports waiting longer before withdrawing life support from people in a COVID-19-induced coma.

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