Why Novavax’s potential COVID vaccine got government funding

By William Smith
Novavax is a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology company focused on vaccine discovery...

Novavax is a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology company focused on vaccine discovery.

As one would expect during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the company has turned its attention towards developing a vaccine.

The company, which was founded in 1987, has received funds totalling $2.4bn in a mix of grants and other funds. Last week, the company received $1.6bn from the US government as part of its Operation Warp Speed, an initiative to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.

Novavax’s candidate, known as NVX-CoV2373, will therefore complete late-stage clinical development, including a Phase 3 clinical trial, in the hope of establishing the manufacturing capacity to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine, potentially “as early as late 2020”.

In a press release, Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax, said: “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. 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.”

The vaccine candidate was made using Novavax’s proprietary nanoparticle technology and consists of a “stable, perfusion protein”.

“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,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “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.”

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