Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) announced Monday evening that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is investing up to $384 million to fund the clinical development of experimental vaccine NVX-CoV2373 targeting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In March, Novavax received $4 million from CEPI for its COVID-19 vaccine program.
A big deal
CEPI was formed in 2017 as a partnership between the public sector and the private sector, including philanthropic and civil society organizations, to develop vaccines to fight epidemics. The organization has funded nine experimental COVID-19 vaccines with a goal to advance these vaccine candidates into clinical testing as rapidly as possible.
The total funding of up to $388 million for Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine program represents CEPI's largest investment so far. CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said that "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."
The additional $384 million of funding will help Novavax advance the clinical studies for its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine. This funding will also enable the company to rapidly scale up production of the vaccine and its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant, which could boost levels of neutralizing antibodies and lead to better immune responses.
Novavax plans to begin a phase 1/2 clinical study evaluating its experimental COVID-19 vaccine this month. It will also expand its production capabilities to manufacture up to 100 million vaccine doses by the end of this year. In addition, Novavax will use the CEPI funding to access large-scale manufacturing capacity across the world with the goal of producing over 1 billion doses of its vaccine in 2021.