UK signs coronavirus vaccine deals with J&J and Novavax

The UK is to buy millions more doses of potential coronavirus vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, with the latter expanding its manufacturing operation in the country.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen pharmaceuticals unit will supply an initial 30 million doses on a not-for-profit basis for emergency use in the pandemic, with an option for an additional 22 million doses.

Novavax said separately that the UK is buying a further 60 million doses of its vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373 for a phase 3 clinical trial.

Both the UK and the US have six COVID-19 vaccine deals between them as governments from across the world race to strike deals with drugmakers for vaccines.

Reuters reported that J&J is also working with the UK government on a phase 3 trial testing a two-dose regimen of its vaccine candidate, running in parallel to a phase 3 trial of its single-dose vaccine.

Novavax is based in the US but is collaborating with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies on a manufacturing operation in Stockton-on-Tees in the UK in addition to sites in North Carolina and Texas in the US.

The UK site is expected to produce up to 180 million doses annually, which further boosts the global supply of NVX-CoV2373 for other markets.

Novavax is planning a phase 3 trial in the coming weeks after encouraging results from an early study showing the vaccine produced higher levels of neutralising antibodies than in recovered patients.

The phase 3 trial could provide enough data to support approval before the end of the year, the company has said.

According to the World Health Organization there are now 29 potential vaccines in clinical trials, none of which have yet been proven to work.

The most advanced is from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca – and the UK has already ordered 100 million doses of this should it prove effective in ongoing phase 3 trials.

The UK government has also ordered 90 million doses of two other COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Valneva.


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