Novavax granted up to $384 million in new CEPI funding for COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Novavax announced Monday that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will invest up to $384 million of additional funding, on top of $4 million it invested in March, to advance clinical development of the company's vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 against SARS-CoV-2. Shares in Novavax jumped as much as 20% on the news.

In April, the company said it had moved forward the start date of a placebo-controlled trial of NVX-CoV2373 to the middle of this month. The vaccine candidate, a stable prefusion protein that will incorporate Novavax's Matrix-M adjuvant, will be tested in about 130 healthy adults.

The additional CEPI funding will go toward a Phase I/II trial of NVX-CoV2373, with the Phase I portion starting this month in Australia and the Phase II portion conducted in multiple countries following successful Phase I top-line results that are slated for July. The funding will also cover rapid scale-up of the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine antigen, as well as the Matrix-M adjuvant, which Novavax says will potentially allow manufacturing of up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020. Moreover, the company said it will use the funds to gain access to large-scale manufacturing capacity in several countries, with a goal of potentially producing over 1 billion doses during 2021.

"The expansion of our partnership with Novavax represents CEPI's single biggest investment to date," remarked Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the organisation. "Our vaccine R&D programmes are starting to show progress, so it is vital that we invest now to boost manufacturing capacity, so that our partners have the ability to produce vaccines at a global scale," he added.

Other companies that have received CEPI funding to advance vaccines for COVID-19 include Moderna, which is developing the mRNA vaccine mRNA-1273, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which is developing the DNA vaccine INO-4800. Last week, Moderna said it secured US approval to advance mRNA-1273 into mid-stage testing.

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