Novavax enters $1.6 billion deal with U.S. for COVID-19 vaccine

July 7, 2020

The funds are meant to support completion of late-stage clinical development and deliver 100 million doses.

The late stage biotechnology company Novavax Inc. has been awarded $1.6 billion by the federal government for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate as part of Operation Warp Speed.

According to a news release, the funds are meant to help Novavax complete late-stage clinical development of their prospective COVID-19 vaccine NVX-CoV2373, including a phase three clinical trial; establish large-scale manufacturing of the drug; and deliver 100 million doses of the drug as early as late-2020.

“The pandemic has caused an unprecedented public health crisis, making it more important than ever that industry, government and funding entities join forces to defeat the novel coronavirus together,” Stanley C. Erck, President and CEO of Novavax, says in the release. “We are honored to partner with Operation Warp Speed to move our vaccine candidate forward with extraordinary urgency in the quest to provide vital protection to our nation’s population. We are grateful to the U.S. government for its confidence in our technology platform, and are working tirelessly to develop and produce a vaccine for this global health crisis.”

NVX-CoV2373 consists of a stable, prefusion protein made using its proprietary nanoparticle technology. There will be a pivotal phase three trial starting in fall 2020 with up to 30,000 subjects, according to the release.

“Adding Novavax’ candidate to Operation Warp Speed’s diverse portfolio of vaccines increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says in the release. “Today’s $1.6 billion investment supports the Novavax candidate, depending on success in clinical trials, all the way through to manufacturing 100 million doses for the American people.”

While the announcement gives hopes that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be swiftly developed, it is not the only drug being looked at to treat it.

Previously, Gilead Chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day announced that remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to shorten the time of recovery for COVID-19 patients, will cost $390 a vial in developed countries. As patients are expected to receive a five-day treatment course using six vials of remdesivir, the total cost for the treatment will be about $2,340 per patient. Even at that price, the drug is expected to produce hospital savings of about $12,000 per patient, due to earlier discharge.