Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) announced on Tuesday that it has been awarded $1.6 billion by Operation Warp Speed, the program established by the U.S. government to support the rapid development and production of COVID-19 vaccines.

The federal funds will help Novavax complete late-stage development of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. Novavax will also use the money to ramp up large-scale manufacturing of NVX-CoV2373 with the goal of delivering 100 million doses of it, potentially before the end of 2020.

Novavax scientist holding instrument

Image source: Novavax. 

NVX-CoV2373 wasn't one of the initial five COVID-19 vaccine candidates selected by Operation Warp Speed last month. However, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated, "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." 

The company began a phase 1/2 clinical study of NVX-CoV2373 in May. Preliminary results from the first phase of this study are expected later this month. Novavax plans to start the phase 2 portion of the trial soon afterward. If all goes well, the biotech hopes to initiate a phase 3 clinical study with up to 30,000 participants in the fall.