Novavax gets $1.6B from government to develop coronavirus vaccine

WASHINGTON -- Maryland-based Novavax will receive $1.6 billion through the government's Operation Warp Speed to develop a coronavirus vaccine as early as this year, the publicly-traded company announced on Tuesday.

"The pandemic has caused an unprecedented public health crisis, making it more important than ever that industry, government and funding entities join forces to defeat the novel coronavirus together," Novavax President and CEO Stanley C. Erck said in a statement. "We are honored to partner with Operation Warp Speed to move our vaccine candidate forward with extraordinary urgency in the quest to provide vital protection to our nation’s population."

The government money will fund Novavax's late-stage clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate. Novavax began a Phase 1/2 trial of its vaccine candidate on 130 healthy participants in Australia in May.

Novavax will use the $1.6 billion for a Phase 3 trial with up to 30,000 participants in the fall.

"Adding Novavax' candidate to Operation Warp Speed's diverse portfolio of vaccines increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "Today's $1.6 billion investment supports the Novavax candidate, depending on success in clinical trials, all the way through to manufacturing 100 million doses for the American people."

Operation Warp Speed's goal is to scale up to millions of deployable, safe vaccine doses in 2021.

Novavax is also known for its work on a flu vaccine and was celebrating good results for its in-development NanoFlu vaccine in March.