US Awards $1.6 Billion To This Firm For COVID-19 Vaccine

Marco Green
July 7, 2020

The award is the largest yet from Operation Warp Speed, the White House's plan to rapidly develop and deliver a viable vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. awarded $1 billion to AstraZeneca in May, $450 million to Johnson & Johnson in March, $38 million to Merck in May, and $483 million to Moderna Therapeutics in April.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. said it was providing New York-state based Regeneron with $450 million to scale up manufacture of its COVID0-19 antibody treatment. The agreement follows others with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the USA government worth more than $400 million.

Novavax and its COVID-19 shot are racing against well-funded global pharmaceutical players, but a new deal with the USA government will push the biotech's fundraising haul past $2 billion. The company pledges to produce 100 million vaccine doses this year, and the partners could sign an add-on deal for more doses.

The company is in the process of transferring its vaccine technology to an unnamed contract manufacturer that has two large manufacturing facilities, its CEO said.

By early next year, Novavax expects to be able to make 50 million doses a month in the United States. "What it leaves us with is the capacity of making many more doses in the U.S.in 2021".

The amount awarded to Novavax by the USA is higher than the $1.2 billion given to the Oxford University vaccine that is being developed by AstraZeneca.

Jefferies analyst Jared Holz said the cash infusion "places Novavax in a very enviable position should its data look compelling later in the year".

It also uses an "adjuvant", a compound that boosts the production of neutralizing antibodies.

"We are grateful to the USA government for its confidence in our technology platform, and are working tirelessly to develop and produce a vaccine for this global health crisis", president and CEO Stanley Erck said.

In a Sunday interview, Erck said that he was not certain where the $1.6 billion in government funds would be drawn from, but a spokesperson for the company later said that the funds would be taken from a "collaboration" between the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Defense.

Novavax also has a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic and hopes to have two other plants in Europe and one in Asia, Erck said. The company is also working with a manufacturer in India.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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