THE Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is investing US$338m to develop and manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine from biotech firm Novavax.
Novavax says it will use the funding to support process development for scaled-up production and access to large-scale manufacturing that could enable it to produce 100m vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and 1bn doses the year after.
The investment marks a serious commitment for CEPI, which was set up in 2017 as a public-private partnership to develop vaccines to stop epidemics, and has raised US$1bn in funding to help fight Covid-19. CEPI has so far formed nine partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus and its investment in Novavax represents 87% of the total invested so far.
“Our vaccine R&D programmes are starting to show progress, so it is vital that we invest now to boost manufacturing capacity, so that our partners have the ability to produce vaccines at a global scale,” said Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI.
“In response to this global pandemic we’re having to be innovative in the way we approach vaccine development and manufacturing. We need to make progress on manufacturing in parallel with the clinical development of the vaccine, so that if the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, we can make doses available to those who need them without delay.”
The funding will support clinical development and scaleup of Novavax’s vaccine antigen, and scale-up of an adjuvant patented by the firm which could help enhance immune responses against Covid-19. Phase 1 of the clinical trials for its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate will begin in Australia this month with preliminary results expected in July.
CEPI estimates that it will cost US$2bn to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 over the next 12–18 months. There are a series of parallel efforts underway to develop and manufacture a vaccine. AstraZeneca and Oxford University joined forces earlier this month, with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot saying production of its candidate vaccine could begin by the end of this year.
There are more than 70 vaccine candidates currently under active development, researchers from CEPI reported in a paper in Nature last month. Other efforts to accelerate the development and manufacture of vaccines includes a consortium of companies including GSK and Pfizer that is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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