What happened?

Novavax (NVAX 2.31%), a biotech company that is developing a vaccine for COVID-19, and Endo International (ENDP), a pharmaceutical company, are both rising sharply on the stock market on Friday. As of 11:32 a.m. EDT today, shares of Novavax are up by 11.6%, while Endo International's stock is up by 5.8%.

So what

Why are both companies rising recording nice gains today? First, after the closing of yesterday's trading session, Novavax announced it was initiating a phase 3 clinical trial in partnership with the U.K. government for its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. The study will take place in the U.K. and will enroll up to 10,000 participants. It will test the safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity (the ability to trigger an immune response in the body) of NVX-CoV2373.

Hand filling a syringe with liquid from a glass vial.

Image source: Getty Images.

Second, Endo International announced that it had reached an agreement to provide fill-finish manufacturing services for Novavax's NVX-CoV2373. Endo International has already started producing the vaccine for use in a phase 3 clinical study in the U.S. Assuming NVX-CoV2373 goes on to earn regulatory approval or emergency use authorization, Endo will also produce the vaccine for commercialization. The financial details of the deal between Endo International and Novavax were not disclosed.

Now what

The race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 is heating up. Novavax is currently running the phase 2 portion of a phase 1/2 clinical trial, and the company said it expects interim data from this study in the fourth quarter. Novavax's agreement with Endo International will help the biotech bring NVX-CoV2373 to the market as quickly as possible, provided the vaccine proves safe and effective in late-stage clinical trials.