Novavax provides 1.1 billion COVID shots to global vaccine drive

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

Novavax has signed a deal to provide 1.1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX global initiative led by Gavi, the vaccine alliance, which aims to ensure fair access across the globe.

There are growing concerns about the lack of COVID vaccines available to poorer countries.

This week UK prime minister Boris Johnson is to pledge at a G7 summit that the country will donate surplus doses from its vaccination campaign to poorer countries.

Russia and China are also winning a “vaccine diplomacy” war by sending vaccines direct to Africa, while the G7’s wealthy nations build up stockpiles.

US-based Novavax said the deal with Gavi covers 1.1 billion cumulative doses of its NVX-CoV2373 recombinant protein-based vaccine candidate, which is yet to be approved by regulators.

The vaccine doses will be manufactured and distributed globally by Novavax and Serum Institute of India (SII), the latter under an existing agreement between Gavi and SII.

NVX-CoV2373 is being studied in two ongoing pivotal phase 3 clinical trials: in the United States and Mexico, as well as in the UK for the prevention of COVID-19.

Interim results from the UK trial reported last month showed an efficacy of around 89%, although it was less effective against the South African variant.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization.

CEPI has provided early support to Novavax’s effort to develop a COVID vaccine, including the commitment of around $400 million to early clinical development and manufacturing scale-up in several facilities around the globe.

Novavax has created a global supply network to ensure there can be adequate and equitable supply of NVX-CoV2373 across the globe.

Novavax licensed its NVX-CoV2373 technology to SII with no upfront, milestone or technology transfer payments so that the vaccine can be manufactured and supplied cheaply to poorer countries.

Novavax is expected to supply doses primarily to high-income countries, with SII providing the majority of supply for low-, middle, and upper-middle-income countries using a tiered pricing schedule.

The vaccine is seen as a potentially important player in the effort against COVID-19 as it is effective against the new UK strain as well as the earlier form of the virus.

It can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures and does not require the ultra-cool supply chain required to maintain stability of RNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.