What happened

Shares of the developmental-stage vaccine company Novavax (NVAX -7.42%) are gearing up for another strong session today. In premarket action Friday morning, the biotech's shares jumped by as much as 14.2%.

The spark? Novavax announced after the closing bell Thursday that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) had awarded the company a handsome $60 million to fund the manufacturing of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, NVX‑CoV2373. As part of the deal, Novavax will reportedly deliver 10 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 to the DoD later this year.

A businessman drawing a positive trending curve with his index finger. 2020 sits at the apex of the curve.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Novavax was surprisingly left off President Trump's list of the five COVID-19 vaccine developers with the best chance of success. The big deal is that the five companies that did make the list will all reportedly receive federal funds and logistical support for their clinical trials. With the DoD's financial support, though, Novavax should have a much better chance of competing with these other vaccine developers favored by the administration.  

Now what

Novavax kicked off an early-stage trial for NVX‑CoV2373 late last month -- making it one of the first companies to actually enter the clinic with a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. If things go as planned, the biotech should have preliminary data by next month. These initial data, in turn, will form the basis of the biotech's next steps for NVX‑CoV2373.