U.S. Commits $2 Billion for Covid-19 Vaccine, Drug Supplies
By Peter Loftus and Joseph Walker
The federal government awarded $2 billion to two drugmakers to
support development and manufacturing of an experimental drug and a
potential vaccine against Covid-19.
Novavax Inc. said it would receive $1.6 billion from the federal
government' to fund clinical studies of its experimental
coronavirus vaccine and establish large-scale manufacturing of
doses. With the funding, Novavax said it would deliver 100 million
doses of its vaccine, possibly by the end of this year.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it has received a $450
million federal contract to manufacture thousands of doses of its
experimental Covid-19 treatment that the government will distribute
for free to the public if the drug is authorized for use by
Shares of Novavax soared nearly 37% to $108.50 early Tuesday.
Shares of Regeneron rose 1.9% to $639.27.
The new funding shows the federal government is taking steps to
try to ensure that more effective tools against the pandemic are
ready by fall and winter. But there is no guarantee that the drug
and vaccine will work safely in clinical trials.
The Regeneron contract covers an undisclosed volume of drug that
Regeneron plans to have by the fall. The exact number of treatment
courses covered is uncertain, Regeneron said, in part because
clinical trials have yet to show what the most effective dose will
Regeneron is testing its drug, a combination of two antibodies,
as both an antiviral treatment for people already infected, and as
a method of providing temporary preventive treatment against new
infections. The Tarrytown, N.Y., company said Monday it is
advancing the drug into later-stage studies.
As an antiviral treatment, the contract will cover 70,000 to
300,000 treatment doses. If used preventively, a lower dose of the
drug will be needed and the estimated treatment doses would range
from 420,000 to 1.3 million, Regeneron said.
The contract was awarded as part of the government's Operation
Warp Speed initiative and will be funded by divisions of the
Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of
Defense, Regeneron said.
Regeneron was previously awarded $167.5 million in federal
funding to help develop its Covid-19 drug.
Operation Warp Speed is a federal initiative to accelerate the
development and manufacturing of drugs and vaccines for Covid-19.
The government also is backing vaccines developed by Moderna Inc.,
AstraZeneca PLC and Johnson & Johnson.
Novavax, of Gaithersburg, Md., started testing its vaccine,
NVX--CoV2373, in May in a small study in Australia. The new federal
funding will support a pivotal, "phase 3" study with up to 30,000
participants beginning in the fall, Novavax said.
Novavax's vaccine contains proteins resembling those found on
the surface of the new coronavirus, which are supposed to trigger
an immune response to the virus once injected. Novavax manufactures
the proteins in insect cells.
Novavax, founded in 1987, has no products on the market. It is
developing vaccines against influenza and other viruses.
The company's efforts have gotten a boost from the Coalition for
Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an Oslo-based nonprofit that has
pledged as much as $388 million in funding for Novavax's
The CEPI funding is helping the company run clinical trials and
begin ramping up production of doses. In return, Novavax has
pledged to expand manufacturing outside the U.S. and to participate
in a global allocation system for doses. Novavax currently
manufactures portions of its developmental vaccines in the U.S. and
Write to Peter Loftus at email@example.com and Joseph Walker
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 07, 2020 10:44 ET (14:44 GMT)
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