On Tuesday, Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) announced it has, with a single stroke of the pen, vastly increased the potential production capacity of its COVID-19 vaccine. An expansion of its agreement with the Serum Institute of India will allow that company to produce the antigen component of Novavax's vaccine. With that capability, Novavax will be able to have a total of roughly 2 billion doses produced annually.
Last month, the two parties agreed to a deal that lifted Novavax's overall capacity to roughly 1 billion doses.
"With this arrangement, we have now put in place a global supply chain that includes the recently acquired Praha Vaccines and partnerships with leading biologics manufacturers, enabling production on three continents," Novavax quoted its CEO Stanley Erck as saying.
A small company relative to the larger competitors in the COVID-19 vaccine "race," Novavax has been shoring up its manufacturing capability lately, either via deals with third parties or with acquisitions. The former Praha Vaccines, based in the Czech Republic, was part of this effort; Novavax acquired the company in May for around $167 million.
At the moment, Novavax's NVX‑CoV2373 vaccine candidate is undergoing phase 2 clinical trials; the company plans to begin crucial phase 3 trials within several weeks. Novavax has received significant funding from the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), and other public bodies involved in the battle against COVID-19.
It should be noted that no vaccine candidate has yet to be approved for general use by any major regulator.
Considered by some to be a David among several Goliaths in the COVID-19 vaccine contest, Novavax shares increased 4.3% on Tuesday, trouncing the gains of the broader stock market.