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Novavax Providing 1.1B Vaccine Doses to Global Group

Vaccine vials

(ulleo, Needpix)

19 Feb. 2021. Novavax, developer of a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 disease, is providing 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine for distribution to lower resource regions of the world. The Covax facility, the agency collecting Novavax and other Covid-19 vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries, is also receiving a $2 billion donation from the U.S. government, with another $2 billion scheduled later on if other donors fulfill their pledges.

Novavax Inc., in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has a two-dose vaccine candidate code-named NVX-CoV2373, made with a technology that generates nanoscale particles of synthetic proteins designed specifically against the genetic code of their targets. In this case, the target is the protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s spike that penetrates and infects host cells. The vaccine is combined with the company’s vaccine adjuvant called Matrix-M, an additive that boosts immune responses, allowing for lower doses of the primary vaccine.

Novavax is testing NVX-CoV2373 in late- or mid-stage trials in the U.K., South Africa, U.S., and Mexico. As reported by Science & Enterprise in January, early results of the trials show NVX-CoV2373 with an efficacy rate of 89 percent against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and 86 percent against the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K. In South Africa, NVX-CoV2373 has an efficacy rate against the the B.1.35 variant of 60 percent in people not infected with HIV, but 49 percent among individuals with HIV infections.

The company agreed to provide 1.1 billion doses of NVX-CoV2373 to the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access, or Covax facility backed by World Health Organization, European Union, and non-government organizations to provide worldwide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. A group called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is the Covax facility designer and coordinator. Novavax is joining forces with Serum Institute of India to manufacture and distribute its doses worldwide.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, an early funder of several Covid-19 vaccines, is also a major partner in the Covax facility, with support from by 98 countries. Those contributions finance vaccine distribution to another 92 countries in lower resource regions. Novavax is one of CEPI’s early backers, receiving $384 million from CEPI in May 2020.

Off-and-on relationship

“This agreement brings the Covax facility one step closer to its goal of supplying vaccines globally and ending the acute phase of the pandemic,” says Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi in a Novavax statement. “It helps us close in on our goal of delivering two billion doses in 2021 and increases the range of vaccines available to us as we build a portfolio suitable for all settings and contexts.”

The U.S. has an off-and-on relationship with the Covax Facility: off during the Trump administration and on under Biden’s presidency. In one of the Biden administration’s first actions, the U.S. rejoined the World Health Organization, where Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at National Institutes of Health, announced the U.S. would also participate in Covax.

In a fact sheet released yesterday, the White House said the U.S. will donate $2 billion to Covax, using funds appropriated by Congress in the last Covid-19 relief bill passed in December. The U.S. is also prepared to provide another $2 billion to Covax through 2022, with the first $500 million of that amount when initial donor pledges are fulfilled and first batches of vaccine doses are delivered to recipient countries.

“We also call on our G7 and other partners to work alongside Gavi,” says the fact sheet, “to bring in billions more in resources to support global Covid-19 vaccination, and to target urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply, and delivery needs.”

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