Operation Warp Speed commits $1.6 billion to Covid-19 vaccine maker Novavax

"Operation Warp Speed," the federal government's Covid-19 vaccine program, on Tuesday announced the largest government Covid-19 vaccine contract to date -- a...

Posted: Jul 7, 2020 8:24 AM
Updated: Jul 7, 2020 12:30 PM

'Operation Warp Speed,' the federal government's Covid-19 vaccine program, on Tuesday announced the largest government Covid-19 vaccine contract to date -- a $1.6 billion contract with Novavax, a Maryland biotech company.

'It speaks to the confidence that they have in our platform to be able to develop a vaccine,' Stanley Erck, Novavax's president and CEO, said Monday in an interview with CNN.

Erck said Novavax's vaccine could be on the market by the first quarter of next year.

Novavax is the fourth company to receive federal funds to conduct large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials and manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine. Each trial is expected to include 30,000 people.

In May, the government awarded more than $1.2 billion to pharmaceutical giant AstraZenca for vaccine development. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also received Phase 3 contracts.

Phase 1 clinical trial data from Novavax on 131 study subjects is expected by the end of the month, Erck said.

Erck said he expects Novavax to begin those Phase 3 trials in the fourth quarter of this year, or possibly late in the third quarter.

Moderna is expected to start its Phase 3 trial later this month. Some study subjects will get the vaccine and some will get a placebo, or an injection that does nothing.

Novavax's $1.6 billion will allow the company to test the vaccine and scale up production in advance of its possible approval, with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by February, Erck said.

Novavax's vaccine contains a small part of the coronavirus, called the spike protein, which sits atop the virus. The goal is to trick the immune system into thinking the spike is actually the entire virus. The immune system creates a response, which will then be used to attack the real virus.

'I think we have a high level of confidence that that our vaccine will set off the appropriate immune response to generate lots of antibodies,' Erck said.

Novavax has used this same technology to make vaccine candidates for Ebola, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. While the company has studied these vaccines in humans, none have been put on the market.

Novavax isn't alone. The other three companies with Phase 3 money -- Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson -- also use technology that has never resulted in a marketed vaccine.

Erck said he's 'optimistic' that Novavax's approach will work and that his team is working 'twenty-four seven' on the vaccine.

'Everybody understands the importance of what we're working on. It's precedent setting,' he said.

In June, Novavax announced a $60 million contract with the US Department of Defense to deliver 10 million doses to the department.

In addition, Novavax is receiving more than $388 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI. The US government is not a part of CEPI.

'Operation Warp Speed' has the goal 'to begin delivering 300 million ... doses of safe and effective vaccine to the American people in 2021,' according to a Department of Health and Human Services statement issued Tuesday morning.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3577966

Reported Deaths: 52798
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119433321569
Riverside2903253829
San Bernardino2868142952
Orange2616083952
San Diego2610013317
Santa Clara1109111797
Kern103622902
Fresno956771451
Sacramento936781488
Alameda808731244
Ventura77849858
San Joaquin670401140
Contra Costa62818681
Stanislaus56323950
Tulare48086766
Monterey42316329
San Mateo39096521
San Francisco34318422
Santa Barbara32087416
Solano30163164
Merced29195405
Sonoma28222298
Imperial26913638
Kings22091220
Placer19882232
San Luis Obispo19724236
Madera15505214
Santa Cruz14700183
Marin13261197
Yolo12854185
Shasta11045179
Butte10981167
El Dorado9168100
Napa905671
Sutter888698
San Benito577261
Yuba577137
Lassen562319
Tehama510452
Nevada397974
Tuolumne396359
Mendocino382143
Amador346941
Humboldt321933
Lake316441
Glenn223223
Colusa213913
Calaveras191149
Siskiyou177914
Inyo131737
Mono12144
Del Norte10075
Plumas6536
Modoc4594
Mariposa3957
Trinity3725
Sierra1000
Alpine820
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 36°
Oroville
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 44°
Chico
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 36°
Red Bluff
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 35°
Red Bluff
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 35°
Chico
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 36°
We've had beautiful weather over northern California today and it will continue through Wednesday before changes begin. Those changes will first involve cooler air and stronger wind, with rain and snow chances following.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events