SARS-CoV-2 rS Nanoparticle Vaccine
MCDC OTA agreement number W15QKN-16-9-1002
Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, Coronavirus disease 19 infection
SARS-CoV-2 rS, TAK 019
Novavax, Inc. is an American vaccine development company headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with additional facilities in Rockville, Maryland and Uppsala, Sweden. As of 2020, it had an ongoing Phase III clinical trial in older adults for its candidate vaccine for seasonal influenza, NanoFlu and a candidate vaccine (NVX-CoV2373) for prevention of COVID-19.
NVX-CoV2373 is a SARS-CoV-2 rS vaccine candidate and was shown to have high immunogenicity in studies. The vaccine is created from the genetic sequence of COVID-19 and the antigen derived from the virus spike protein is generated using recombinant nanoparticle technology. The vaccine was developed and tested by Novavax. As of May 2020, the company is pursuing a Phase 1 clinical trial (NCT04368988) to test the vaccine.
Novavax was founded in 1987. It focused principally on experimental vaccine development, but did not achieve a successful launch up to 2021.
In 2015, the company received an $89 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of a vaccine against human respiratory syncytial virus for infants via maternal immunization.
In March 2015 the company completed a Phase I trial for its Ebola vaccine candidate, as well as a phase II study in adults for its RSV vaccine, which would become ResVax. The ResVax trial was encouraging as it showed significant efficacy against RSV infection.
2016 saw the company’s first phase III trial, the 12,000 adult Resolve trial, for its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, which would come to be known as ResVax, fail in September. This triggered an eighty-five percent dive in the company’s stock price. Phase II adult trial results also released in 2016 showed a stimulation of antigencity, but failure in efficacy. Evaluation of these results suggested that an alternative dosing strategy might lead to success, leading to plans to run new phase II trials. The company’s difficulties in 2016 led to a three part strategy for 2017: cost reduction through restructuring and the termination of 30% of their workforce; pouring more effort into getting ResVax to market; and beginning clinical trials on a Zika virus vaccine.
Alongside the adult studies of ResVax, the vaccine was also in 2016 being tested against infant RSV infection through the route of maternal immunization.
In 2019, late-stage clinical testing of ResVax, failed for a second time, which resulted in a major downturn in investor confidence and a seventy percent reduction in capital value for the firm. As a secondary result, the company was forced to conduct a reverse stock split in order to maintain Nasdaq minimum qualification, meaning it was in risk of being delisted.
The company positions NanoFlu for the unmet need for a more effective vaccine against influenza, particularly in the elderly who often experience serious and sometimes life-threatening complications. In January 2020, it was granted fast track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for NanoFlu.
In May 2020, Novavax received US$384 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to fund early-stage evaluation in healthy adults of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 and to develop resources in preparation for large-scale manufacturing, if the vaccine proves successful. CEPI had already invested $4 million in March.
Drugs in development
ResVax is a nanoparticle-based treatment using a recombinant F lipoprotein or saponin, “extracted from the Quillaja saponaria [or?] Molina bark together with cholesterol and phospholipid.” It is aimed at stimulating resistance to respiratory syncytial virus infection, targeting both adult and infant populations.
In January 2020, Novavax was given Fast Track status by the FDA to expedite the review process for NanoFlu, a candidate influenze vaccine undergoing a Phase III clinical trial scheduled for completion by mid-2020.
COVID-19 vaccine candidate
In January 2020, Novavax announced development of a vaccine candidate, named NVX-CoV2373, to establish immunity to SARS-CoV-2. NVX-CoV2373 is a protein subunit vaccine that contains the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Novavax’s work is in competition for vaccine development among dozens of other companies.
In January 2021, the company released phase 3 trials showing that it has 89% efficacy against Covid-19, and also provides strong immunity against new variants. It has applied for emergency use in the US and UK but will be distributed in the UK first.Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Demonstrates 89.3% Efficacy in UK Phase 3 TrialJan 28, 2021 at 4:05 PM ESTDownload PDF
First to Demonstrate Clinical Efficacy Against COVID-19 and Both UK and South Africa Variants
- Strong efficacy in Phase 3 UK trial with over 50% of cases attributable to the now-predominant UK variant and the remainder attributable to COVID-19 virus
- Clinical efficacy demonstrated in Phase 2b South Africa trial with over 90% of sequenced cases attributable to prevalent South Africa escape variant
- Company to host investor conference call today at 4:30pm ET
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Jan. 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Novavax, Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX), a biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced that NVX-CoV2373, its protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, met the primary endpoint, with a vaccine efficacy of 89.3%, in its Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the United Kingdom (UK). The study assessed efficacy during a period with high transmission and with a new UK variant strain of the virus emerging and circulating widely. It was conducted in partnership with the UK Government’s Vaccines Taskforce. Novavax also announced successful results of its Phase 2b study conducted in South Africa.
“With today’s results from our UK Phase 3 and South Africa Phase 2b clinical trials, we have now reported data on our COVID-19 vaccine from Phase 1, 2 and 3 trials involving over 20,000 participants. In addition, our PREVENT-19 US and Mexico clinical trial has randomized over 16,000 participants toward our enrollment goal of 30,000. NVX-CoV2373 is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against COVID-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly emerging UK and South Africa variants,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax. “NVX-CoV2373 has the potential to play an important role in solving this global public health crisis. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, collaborators, investigators and regulators around the world to make the vaccine available as quickly as possible.”
NVX-CoV2373 contains a full-length, prefusion spike protein made using Novavax’ recombinant nanoparticle technology and the company’s proprietary saponin-based Matrix-M™ adjuvant. The purified protein is encoded by the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and is produced in insect cells. It can neither cause COVID-19 nor can it replicate, is stable at 2°C to 8°C (refrigerated) and is shipped in a ready-to-use liquid formulation that permits distribution using existing vaccine supply chain channels.
UK Phase 3 Results: 89.3% Efficacy
The study enrolled more than 15,000 participants between 18-84 years of age, including 27% over the age of 65. The primary endpoint of the UK Phase 3 clinical trial is based on the first occurrence of PCR-confirmed symptomatic (mild, moderate or severe) COVID-19 with onset at least 7 days after the second study vaccination in serologically negative (to SARS-CoV-2) adult participants at baseline.
The first interim analysis is based on 62 cases, of which 56 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 6 cases observed in the NVX-CoV2373 group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 89.3% (95% CI: 75.2 – 95.4). Of the 62 cases, 61 were mild or moderate, and 1 was severe (in placebo group).
Preliminary analysis indicates that the UK variant strain that was increasingly prevalent was detected in over 50% of the PCR-confirmed symptomatic cases (32 UK variant, 24 non-variant, 6 unknown). Based on PCR performed on strains from 56 of the 62 cases, efficacy by strain was calculated to be 95.6% against the original COVID-19 strain and 85.6% against the UK variant strain [post hoc].
The interim analysis included a preliminary review of the safety database, which showed that severe, serious, and medically attended adverse events occurred at low levels and were balanced between vaccine and placebo groups.
“These are spectacular results, and we are very pleased to have helped Novavax with the development of this vaccine. The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging. This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus,” said Clive Dix, Chair, UK Vaccine Taskforce.
Novavax expects to share further details of the UK trial results as additional data become available. Additional analysis on both trials is ongoing and will be shared via prepublication servers as well as submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. The company initiated a rolling submission to the United Kingdom’s regulatory agency, the MHRA, in mid-January.
South Africa Results: Approximately 90% of COVID-19 cases attributed to South Africa escape variant
In the South Africa Phase 2b clinical trial, 60% efficacy (95% CI: 19.9 – 80.1) for the prevention of mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 disease was observed in the 94% of the study population that was HIV-negative. Twenty-nine cases were observed in the placebo group and 15 in the vaccine group. One severe case occurred in the placebo group and all other cases were mild or moderate. The clinical trial also achieved its primary efficacy endpoint in the overall trial population, including HIV-positive and HIV-negative subjects (efficacy of 49.4%; 95% CI: 6.1 – 72.8).
This study enrolled over 4,400 patients beginning in August 2020, with COVID-19 cases counted from September through mid-January. During this time, the triple mutant variant, which contains three critical mutations in the receptor binding domain (RBD) and multiple mutations outside the RBD, was widely circulating in South Africa. Preliminary sequencing data is available for 27 of 44 COVID-19 events; of these, 92.6% (25 out of 27 cases) were the South Africa escape variant.
Importantly in this trial, approximately 1/3 of the patients enrolled (but not included in the primary analyses described above) were seropositive, demonstrating prior COVID-19 infection at baseline. Based on temporal epidemiology data in the region, the pre-trial infections are thought to have been caused by the original COVID-19 strain (i.e., non-variant), while the subsequent infections during the study were largely variant virus. These data suggest that prior infection with COVID-19 may not completely protect against subsequent infection by the South Africa escape variant, however, vaccination with NVX-CoV2373 provided significant protection.
“The 60% reduced risk against COVID-19 illness in vaccinated individuals in South Africans underscores the value of this vaccine to prevent illness from the highly worrisome variant currently circulating in South Africa, and which is spreading globally. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine for which we now have objective evidence that it protects against the variant dominating in South Africa,” says Professor Shabir Maddi, Executive Director of the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA) at Wits, and principal investigator in the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trial in South Africa. “I am encouraged to see that Novavax plans to immediately begin clinical development on a vaccine specifically targeted to the variant, which together with the current vaccine is likely to form the cornerstone of the fight against COVID-19.”
Novavax initiated development of new constructs against the emerging strains in early January and expects to select ideal candidates for a booster and/or combination bivalent vaccine for the new strains in the coming days. The company plans to initiate clinical testing of these new vaccines in the second quarter of this year.
“A primary benefit of our adjuvanted platform is that it uses a very small amount of antigen, enabling the rapid creation and large-scale production of combination vaccine candidates that could potentially address multiple circulating strains of COVID-19,” said Gregory M. Glenn, M.D., President of Research and Development, Novavax. “Combined with the safety profile that has been observed in our studies to-date with our COVID-19 vaccine, as well as prior studies in influenza, we are optimistic about our ability to rapidly adapt to evolving conditions.”
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) funded the manufacturing of doses of NVX-CoV2373 for this Phase 2b clinical trial, which was supported in part by a $15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Significant progress on PREVENT-19 Clinical Trial in US and Mexico
To date, PREVENT-19 has randomized over 16,000 participants and expects to complete our targeted enrollment of 30,000 patients in the first half of February. PREVENT-19 is being conducted with support from the U.S. government partnership formerly known as Operation Warp Speed, which includes the Department of Defense, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at HHS. BARDA is also providing up to $1.75 billion under a Department of Defense agreement.
PREVENT-19 (the PRE-fusion protein subunit Vaccine Efficacy Novavax Trial | COVID-19) is a Phase 3, randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded study in the US and Mexico to evaluate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of NVX-CoV2373 with Matrix-M in up to 30,000 subjects 18 years of age and older compared with placebo. The trial design has been harmonized to align with other Phase 3 trials conducted under the auspices of Operation Warp Speed, including the use of a single external independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board to evaluate safety and conduct an unblinded review when predetermined interim analysis events are reached.
The trial’s primary endpoint is the prevention of PCR-confirmed, symptomatic COVID-19. The key secondary endpoint is the prevention of PCR-confirmed, symptomatic moderate or severe COVID-19. Both endpoints will be assessed at least seven days after the second study vaccination in volunteers who have not been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Novavax will host a conference call today at 4:30pm ET. The dial-in numbers for the conference call are (877) 212-6076 (Domestic) or (707) 287-9331 (International), passcode 7470222. A replay of the conference call will be available starting at 7:30 p.m. ET on January 28, 2021 until 7:30 p.m. ET on February 4, 2021. To access the replay by telephone, dial (855) 859-2056 (Domestic) or (404) 537-3406 (International) and use passcode 7470222.
A webcast of the conference call can also be accessed on the Novavax website at novavax.com/events. A replay of the webcast will be available on the Novavax website until April 28, 2021.
NVX-CoV2373 is a protein-based vaccine candidate engineered from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. NVX-CoV2373 was created using Novavax’ recombinant nanoparticle technology to generate antigen derived from the coronavirus spike (S) protein and is adjuvanted with Novavax’ patented saponin-based Matrix-M™ to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies. NVX-CoV2373 contains purified protein antigen and can neither replicate, nor can it cause COVID-19. Over 37,000 participants have participated to date across four different clinical studies in five countries. NVX-CoV2373 is currently being evaluated in two pivotal Phase 3 trials: a trial in the U.K that completed enrollment in November and the PREVENT-19 trial in the U.S. and Mexico that began in December.
Novavax’ patented saponin-based Matrix-M™ adjuvant has demonstrated a potent and well-tolerated effect by stimulating the entry of antigen presenting cells into the injection site and enhancing antigen presentation in local lymph nodes, boosting immune response.
Novavax, Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX) is a biotechnology company that promotes improved health globally through the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases. The company’s proprietary recombinant technology platform combines the power and speed of genetic engineering to efficiently produce highly immunogenic nanoparticles designed to address urgent global health needs. Novavax is conducting late-stage clinical trials for NVX-CoV2373, its vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. NanoFlu™, its quadrivalent influenza nanoparticle vaccine, met all primary objectives in its pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial in older adults and will be advanced for regulatory submission. Both vaccine candidates incorporate Novavax’ proprietary saponin-based Matrix-M™ adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.
Type: Stable, prefusion protein made using Novavax’ proprietary nanoparticle technology, and incorporating its proprietary saponin-based Matrix-M™ adjuvant.
2021 Status: Novavax on March 11 announced final efficacy of 96.4% against mild, moderate and severe disease caused by the original COVID-19 strain in a pivotal Phase III trial in the U.K. of NVX–CoV2373. The study enrolled more than 15,000 participants between 18-84 years of age, including 27% over the age of 65.
The company also announced the complete analysis of its Phase IIb trial in South Africa, showing the vaccine had an efficacy of 55.4% among a cohort of HIV-negative trial participants, and an overall efficacy of 48.6% against predominantly variant strains of SARS-CoV-2 among 147 PCR-positive cases (51 cases in the vaccine group and 96 in the placebo group). Across both trials, NVX-CoV2373 demonstrated 100% protection against severe disease, including all hospitalization and death.
Philippines officials said March 10 that they secured 30 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 through an agreement with the Serum Institute of India, the second vaccine deal signed by the national government, according to Agence France-Presse. The first was with AstraZeneca for 2.6 million doses of its vaccine, developed with Oxford University.
The Novavax vaccine will be available from the third quarter, at a price that has yet to be finalized. The government hopes to secure 148 million doses this year from seven companies—enough for around 70% of its population.
In announcing fourth quarter and full-year 2020 results on March 1, Novavax said it could file for an emergency use authorization with the FDA in the second quarter of 2021. Novavax hopes it can use data from its Phase III U.K. clinical trial in its FDA submission, and expects the FDA to examine data in May, a month after they are reviewed by regulators in the U.K., President and CEO Stanley C. Erck said on CNBC. Should the FDA insist on waiting for U.S. data, the agency may push the review timeline by one or two months, he added.
The company also said that NVX-CoV2373 showed 95.6% efficacy against the original strain of COVID-19 and 85.6% against the UK variant strain, and re-stated an earlier finding that its vaccine met the Phase III trial’s primary endpoint met with an efficacy rate of 89.3%.
Novavax said February 26 that it signed an exclusive license agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical for Takeda to develop, manufacture, and commercialize NVX-CoV2373 in Japan.
Novavax agreed to transfer the technology for manufacturing of the vaccine antigen and will supply its Matrix-M™ adjuvant to Takeda. Takeda anticipated the capacity to manufacture over 250 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per year. Takeda agreed in return to pay Novavax undisclosed payments tied to achieving development and commercial milestones, plus a portion of proceeds from the vaccine.
Takeda also disclosed that it dosed the first participants in a Phase II clinical trial to test the immunogenicity and safety of Novavax’ vaccine candidate in Japanese participants.
Novavax on February 18 announced a memorandum of understanding with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), to provide 1.1 billion cumulative doses of NVX-CoV2373 for the COVAX Facility. Gavi leads the design and implementation of the COVAX Facility, created to supply vaccines globally, and has committed to working with Novavax to finalize an advance purchase agreement for vaccine supply and global distribution allocation via the COVAX Facility and its partners.
The doses will be manufactured and distributed globally by Novavax and Serum Institute of India (SII), the latter under an existing agreement between Gavi and SII.
Novavax and SK Bioscience said February 15 that they expanded their collaboration and license agreement, with SK finalizing an agreement to supply 40 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 to the government of South Korea beginning in 2021, for an undisclosed price. SK also obtained a license to manufacture and commercialize NVX-CoV2373 for sale to South Korea, as a result of which SK said it will add significant production capacity.
The agreement also calls on Novavax to facilitate technology transfer related to the manufacturing of its protein antigen, its Matrix M adjuvant, and support to SK Bioscience as needed to secure regulatory approval.
Rolling review begins—On February 4, Novavax announced it had begun a rolling review process for authorization of NVX-CoV2373 with several regulatory agencies worldwide, including the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and Health Canada. The reviews will continue while the company completes its pivotal Phase III trials in the U.S. and U.K., and through initial authorization for emergency use granted under country-specific regulations, and through initial authorization for emergency use.
A day earlier, Novavax executed a binding Heads of Terms agreement with the government of Switzerland to supply 6 million doses of NVX-CoV2373, to the country. Novavax and Switzerland plan to negotiate a final agreement, with initial delivery of vaccine doses slated to ship following successful clinical development and regulatory review.
On January 28, Novavax electrified investors by announcing that its COVID-19 vaccine NVX-CoV2373 showed efficacy of 89.3% in the company’s first analysis of data from a Phase III trial in the U.K., where a variant strain (B.1.1.7) accounted for about half of all positive cases.
However, NVX-CoV2373 achieved only 60% efficacy in a Phase IIb trial in South Africa, where that country’s escape variant of the virus (B.1.351, also known as 20H/501Y.V2) was seen in 90% of cases, Novavax said.
Novavax said January 7 it executed an Advance Purchase Agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia for 51 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 for an undisclosed price, with an option to purchase an additional 10 million doses—finalizing an agreement in principle announced in November 2020. Novavax said it will work with Australia’s Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), to obtain approvals upon showing efficacy in clinical studies. The company aims to deliver initial doses by mid-2021.
2020 Status: Phase III trial launched—Novavax said December 28 that it launched the pivotal Phase III PREVENT-19 trial (NCT04611802) in the U.S. and Mexico to evaluate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of NVX-CoV2373. The randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded study will assess the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of NVX-CoV2373 in up to 30,000 participants 18 years of age and older compared with placebo. The trial’s primary endpoint is the prevention of PCR-confirmed, symptomatic COVID-19. The key secondary endpoint is the prevention of PCR-confirmed, symptomatic moderate or severe COVID-19. Both endpoints will be assessed at least seven days after the second study vaccination in volunteers who have not been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Two thirds of the participants will be assigned to randomly receive two intramuscular injections of the vaccine, administered 21 days apart, while one third of the trial participants will receive placebo. Trial sites were selected in locations where transmission rates are currently high, to accelerate the accumulation of positive cases that could show efficacy. Participants will be followed for 24 months following the second injection
PREVENT-19 is being conducted with support from federal agencies involved in Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to promote development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. Those agencies include the Department of Defense (DoD), the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)—which has committed up to $1.6 billion to Novavax under a DoD agreement (identifier MCDC OTA agreement number W15QKN-16-9-1002).
Novavax is also conducting a pivotal Phase III study in the United Kingdom, a Phase IIb safety and efficacy study in South Africa, and an ongoing Phase I/II trial in the U.S. and Australia. Data from these trials are expected as soon as early first quarter 2021, though timing will depend on transmission rates in the regions, the company said.
Novavax said November 9 that the FDA granted its Fast Track designation for NVX-CoV2373. By the end of November, the company expected to finish enrollment in its Phase III U.K. trial, with interim data in that study expected as soon as early first quarter 2021.
Five days earlier, Novavax signed a non-binding Heads of Terms document with the Australian government to supply 40 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 to Australia starting as early as the first half of 2021, subject to the successful completion of Phase III clinical development and approval of the vaccine by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The vaccine regimen is expected to require two doses per individual, administered 21 days apart.
Australia joins the U.S., the U.K., and Canada in signing direct supply agreements with Novavax. The company is supplying doses in Japan, South Korea, and India through partnerships. Australian clinical researchers led the global Phase I clinical trial in August, which involved 131 Australians across two trial sites (Melbourne and Brisbane). Also, approximately 690 Australians have participated in the Phase II arm of the clinical trial, which has been conducted across up to 40 sites in Australia and the U.S.
Novavax joined officials in its headquarters city of Gaithersburg, MD, on November 2 to announce expansion plans. The company plans to take 122,000 square feet of space at 700 Quince Orchard Road, and has committed to adding at least 400 local jobs, nearly doubling its current workforce of 450 worldwide. Most of the new jobs are expected to be added b March 2021.
Maryland’s Department of Commerce—which has prioritized assistance to life sciences companies—approved a $2 million conditional loan tied to job creation and capital investment. The state has also approved a $200,000 Partnership for Workforce Quality training grant, and the company is eligible for several tax credits, including the Job Creation Tax Credit and More Jobs for Marylanders.
Additionally, Montgomery County has approved a $500,000 grant tied to job creation and capital investment, while the City of Gaithersburg said it will approve a grant of up to $50,000 from its Economic Development Opportunity Fund. The city accelerated its planning approval process to accommodate Novavax’ timeline, given the company’s role in fighting COVID-19 and resulting assistance from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to accelerate development of COVID-19 vaccines.
On October 27, Novavax said that it had enrolled 5,500 volunteers in the Phase III U.K. trial, which has been expanded from 10,000 to 15,000 volunteers. The increased enrollment “is likely to facilitate assessment of safety and efficacy in a shorter time period,” according to the company.
The trial, which is being conducted with the U.K. Government’s Vaccines Taskforce, was launched in September and is expected to be fully enrolled by the end of November, with interim data expected by early first quarter 2021, depending on the overall COVID-19 attack rate. Novavax has posted the protocol for the Phase III U.K. trial online. The protocol calls for unblinding of data once 152 participants have achieved mild, moderate or severe endpoints. Two interim analyses are planned upon occurrence of 66 and 110 endpoints.
Novavax also said it expects to launch a second Phase III trial designed to enroll up to 30,000 participants in the U.S. and Mexico by the end of November—a study funded through the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program. The patient population will reflect proportional representation of diverse populations most vulnerable to COVID-19, across race/ethnicity, age, and co-morbidities.
The company cited progress toward large-scale manufacturing while acknowledging delays from original timeframe estimates. Novavax said it will use its contract manufacturing site at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Morrisville, NC facility to produce material for the U.S. trial.
On September 25, Novavax entered into a non-exclusive agreement with Endo International subsidiary Par Sterile Products to provide fill-finish manufacturing services at its plant in Rochester, MI, for NVX-CoV2373. Under the agreement, whose value was not disclosed, the Rochester facility has begun production of NVX-CoV2373 final drug product, with initial batches to be used in Novavax’ Phase III clinical trial in the U.S. Par Sterile will also fill-finish NVX-CoV2373 vaccine intended for commercial distribution in the U.S.
A day earlier, Novavax launched the U.K. trial. The randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded study to evaluate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of NVX-CoV2373 with Matrix-M in up to 10,000 subjects 18-84 years of age, with and without “relevant” comorbidities, over the following four to six weeks, Novavax said. Half the participants will receive two intramuscular injections of vaccine comprising 5 µg of protein antigen with 50 µg Matrix‑M adjuvant, 21 days apart, while half of the trial participants will receive placebo. At least 25% of the study population will be over age 65.
The trial’s first primary endpoint is first occurrence of PCR-confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 with onset at least seven days after the second study vaccination in volunteers who have not been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. The second primary endpoint is first occurrence of PCR-confirmed symptomatic moderate or severe COVID-19 with onset at least seven days after the second study vaccination in volunteers who have not been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2
“The data from this trial is expected to support regulatory submissions for licensure in the UK, EU and other countries,” stated Gregory M. Glenn, M.D., President, Research and Development at Novavax.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan joined state Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz and local officials in marking the launch of Phase III studies with a tour of the company’s facilities in Gaithersburg: “The coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s been developed by Novavax is one of the most promising in the country, if not the world.”
On August 31, Novavax reached an agreement in principle with the government of Canada to supply up to 76 million doses of NVX-CoV2373. The value was not disclosed. Novavax and Canada did say that they expect to finalize an advance purchase agreement under which Novavax will agree to supply doses of NVX-CoV2373 to Canada beginning as early as the second quarter of 2021.
The purchase arrangement will be subject to licensure of the NVX-CoV2373 by Health Canada, Novavax said. The vaccine is in multiple Phase II clinical trials: On August 24, Novavax said the first volunteers had been enrolled in the Phase II portion of its ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial (NCT04368988), designed to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of two doses of of NVX-CoV2373 (5 and 25 µg) with and without 50 µg of Matrix‑M™ adjuvant in up to 1,500 volunteers ages 18-84.
The randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded study is designed to assess two dose sizes (5 and 25 µg) of NVX-CoV2373, each with 50 µg of Matrix‑M. Unlike the Phase I portion, the Phase II portion will include older adults 60-84 years of age as approximately half of the trial’s population. Secondary objectives include preliminary evaluation of efficacy. The trial will be conducted at up to 40 sites in the U.S. and Australia, Novovax said.
NVX-CoV2373 is in a pair of Phase II trials launched in August—including a Phase IIb study in South Africa to assess efficacy, and a Phase II safety and immunogenicity study in the U.S. and Australia.
On August 14, the U.K. government agreed to purchase 60 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 from the company, and support its planned Phase III clinical trial in the U.K., through an agreement whose value was not disclosed. The doses are set to be manufactured as early as the first quarter of 2021.
The trial will be designed to evaluate the ability of NVX-CoV2373 to protect against symptomatic COVID-19 disease as well as evaluate antibody and T-cell responses. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy study will enroll approximately 9,000 adults 18-85 years of age in the U.K., and is expected to start in the third quarter.
Novavax also said it will expand its collaboration with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB), which will manufacture the antigen component of NVX-CoV2373 from its Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees site in the U.K., as well as at U.S. sites in Morrisville, NC, and College Station, TX. FDB’s U.K. sitevis expected to produce up to 180 million doses annually.
On August 13, Novavax said it signed a development and supply agreement for the antigen component of NVX-CoV2373 with Seoul-based SK bioscience, a vaccine business subsidiary of SK Group. The agreement calls for supply to global markets that include the COVAX Facility, co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization.
Novavax and SK signed a letter of intent with South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare to work toward broad and equitable access to NVX-CoV2373 worldwide, as well as to make the vaccine available in South Korea. SK bioscience agreed to manufacture the vaccine antigen component for use in the final drug product globally during the pandemic, at its vaccine facility in Andong L-house, South Korea, beginning in August. The value of the agreement was not disclosed.
On August 7, Novavax licensed its COVID-19 vaccine technology to Takeda Pharmaceutical through a partnership by which Takeda will develop, manufacture, and commercialize NVX‑CoV2373 in Japan, using Matrix-M adjuvant to be supplied by Novavax. Takeda will also be responsible for regulatory submission to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW).
MHLW agreed to provide funding to Takeda—the amount was not disclosed in the companies’ announcement—for technology transfer, establishment of infrastructure, and scale-up of manufacturing. Takeda said it anticipated the capacity to manufacture over 250 million doses of NVX‑CoV2373 per year.
Five days earlier, Serum Institute of India agreed to license rights from Novavax to NVX‑CoV2373 for development and commercialization in India as well as low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), through an agreement whose value was not disclosed. Novavax retains rights to NVX-CoV2373 elsewhere in the world.
Novavax and Serum Institute of India agreed to partner on clinical development, co-formulation, filling and finishing and commercialization of NVX-CoV2373. Serum Institute will oversee regulatory submissions and marketing authorizations in regions covered by the collaboration. Novavax agreed to provide both vaccine antigen and Matrix‑M adjuvant, while the partners said they were in talks to have the Serum Institute manufacture vaccine antigen in India. Novavax and Seerum Institute plan to split the revenue from the sale of product, net of agreed costs.
A day earlier, Novavax announced positive results from the Phase I portion of its Phase I/II clinical trial (NCT04368988), designed to evaluate two doses of NVX-CoV2373 (5 and 25 µg) with and without Matrix‑M™ adjuvant in 131 healthy adults ages 18-59. NVX-CoV2373, adjuvanted with Matrix-M, elicited robust antibody responses numerically superior to human convalescent sera, according to data submitted for peer-review to a scientific journal.
All participants developed anti-spike IgG antibodies after a single dose of vaccine, Novavax said, many also developing wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses. After the second dose, all participants developed wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses. Both anti-spike IgG and viral neutralization responses compared favorably to responses from patients with clinically significant COVID‑19 disease, the company said—adding that IgG antibody response was highly correlated with neutralization titers, showing that a significant proportion of antibodies were functional.
For both dosages of NVX‑CoV2373 with adjuvant, the 5 µg dose performed “comparably” with the 25 µg dose, Novavax said. NVX‑CoV2373 also induced antigen-specific polyfunctional CD4+ T cell responses with a strong bias toward the Th1 phenotype (IFN-g, IL-2, and TNF-a).
Based on an interim analysis of Phase I safety and immunogenicity data, the trial was expanded to Phase II clinical trials in multiple countries, including the U.S. The trial—which began in Australia in May—is being funded by up-to $388 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). If the Phase I/II trial is successful, CEPI said, it anticipates supporting further clinical development that would advance NVX-CoV2373 through to licensure.
On July 23, Novavax joined FDB to announce that FDB will manufacture bulk drug substance for NVX-CoV2373, under an agreement whose value was not disclosed. FDB’s site in Morrisville, NC has begun production of the first batch of NVX-CoV2373. Batches produced at FDB’s Morrisville site will be used in Novavax’s planned pivotal Phase III clinical trial, designed to assess NVX-CoV2373 in up to 30,000 participants, and set to start this fall.
The Phase III trial is among R&D efforts to be funded through the $1.6 billion awarded in July to Novavax through President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” program toward late-stage clinical trials and large-scale manufacturing to produce 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by year’s end. Novavax said the funding will enable it to complete late-stage clinical studies aimed at evaluating the safety and efficacy of NVX-CoV2373.
In June, Novavax said biotech investor and executive David Mott was joining its board as an independent director, after recently acquiring nearly 65,000 shares of the company’s common stock. Also, Novavax was awarded a $60 million contract by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for the manufacturing of NVX‑CoV2373. Through the Defense Health Program, the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Enabling Biotechnologies (JPEO-CBRND-EB) agreed to support production of several vaccine components to be manufactured in the U.S. Novavax plans to deliver this year for DoD 10 million doses of NVX‑CoV2373 that could be used in Phase II/III trials, or under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) if approved by the FDA.
Also in June, AGC Biologics said it will partner with Novavax on large-scale GMP production of Matrix-M– significantly increasing Novavax’ capacity to deliver doses in 2020 and 2021—through an agreement whose value was not disclosed. And Novavax joined The PolyPeptide Group to announce large-scale GMP production by the global CDMO of two unspecified key intermediate components used in the production of Matrix-M.
In May, Novavax acquired Praha Vaccines from the India-based Cyrus Poonawalla Group for $167 million cash, in a deal designed to ramp up Novavax’s manufacturing capacity for NVX-CoV2373. Praha Vaccines’ assets include a 150,000-square foot vaccine and biologics manufacturing facility and other support buildings in Bohumil, Czech Republic. Novavax said the Bohumil facility is expected to deliver an annual capacity of over 1 billion doses of antigen starting in 2021 for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Bohumil facility is completing renovations that include the addition of Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) capabilities. The site’s approximately 150 employees with “significant experience” in vaccine manufacturing and support have joined Novavax, the company said.
On May 11, Novavax joined CEPI in announcing up to $384 million in additional funding for the company toward clinical development and large-scale manufacturing of NVX-CoV2373. CEPI agreed to fund preclinical as well as Phase I and Phase II studies of NVX-CoV2373. The funding multiplied CEPI’s initial $4 million investment in the vaccine candidate, made two months earlier. Novavax’s total $388 million in CEPI funding accounted for 87% of the total $446 million awarded by the Coalition toward COVID-19 vaccine R&D as of that date.
Novavax identified its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in April. The company said NVX-CoV2373 was shown to be highly immunogenic in animal models measuring spike protein-specific antibodies, antibodies that block the binding of the spike protein to the receptor, and wild-type virus neutralizing antibodies. High levels of spike protein-specific antibodies with ACE-2 human receptor binding domain blocking activity and SARS-CoV-2 wild-type virus neutralizing antibodies were also seen after a single immunization.
In March, Emergent Biosolutions disclosed it retained an option to allocate manufacturing capacity for an expanded COVID-19 program under an agreement with Novavax to provide “molecule-to-market” contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) services to produce Novavax’s NanoFlu™, its recombinant quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine candidate.
Earlier in March, Emergent announced similar services to support clinical development of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, saying March 10 it agreed to produce the vaccine candidate and had initiated work, anticipating the vaccine candidate will be used in a Phase I study within the next four months. In February, Novavax said it had produced and was assessing multiple nanoparticle vaccine candidates in animal models prior to identifying an optimal candidate for human testing.
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|Traded as||Nasdaq: NVAX|
Russell 2000 Component
|Founded||1987; 34 years ago |
|Headquarters||Gaithersburg, Maryland,United States|
|Key people||Stanley Erck (CEO)|
|Revenue||$475.2 Million (2020)|
|Number of employees||500+|
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, codenamed NVX-CoV2373, and also called SARS-CoV-2 rS (recombinant spike) protein nanoparticle with Matrix-M1 adjuvant, is a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Novavax and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It requires two doses and is stable at 2 to 8 °C (36 to 46 °F) (refrigerated).
The vaccine is produced by creating an engineered baculovirus containing a gene for a modified SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The baculovirus then infects a culture of Sf9 moth cells, which create the spike protein and display it on their cell membranes. The spike proteins are then harvested and assembled onto a synthetic lipid nanoparticle about 50 nanometers across, each displaying up to 14 spike proteins.
In January 2020, Novavax announced development of a vaccine candidate, codenamed NVX-CoV2373, to establish immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Novavax’s work is in competition for vaccine development among dozens of other companies.
In March 2020, Novavax announced a collaboration with Emergent BioSolutions for preclinical and early-stage human research on the vaccine candidate. Under the partnership, Emergent BioSolutions will manufacture the vaccine at large scale at their Baltimore facility. Trials have also taken place in the United Kingdom, and subject to regulatory approval, at least 60 million doses will be manufactured by Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Billingham for purchase by the UK government. They also signed an agreement with Serum Institute of India for mass scale production for developing and low-income countries. It has also been reported, that the vaccine will be manufactured in Spain. The first human safety studies of the candidate, codenamed NVX-CoV2373, started in May 2020 in Australia.
In July, the company announced it might receive $1.6 billion from Operation Warp Speed to expedite development of its coronavirus vaccine candidate by 2021—if clinical trials show the vaccine to be effective. A spokesperson for Novavax stated that the $1.6 billion was coming from a “collaboration” between the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense, where Gen. Gustave F. Perna has been selected as COO for Warp Speed. In late September, Novavax entered the final stages of testing its coronavirus vaccine in the UK. Another large trial was announced to start by October in the US.
On 28 January 2021, Novavax reported that preliminary results from the United Kingdom trial showed that its vaccine candidate was more than 89% effective. However, interim results from a trial in South Africa showed a lower effectiveness rate against the 501.V2 variant of the virus, at around 50-60%.
On 12 March 2021, they announced their vaccine candidate was 96.4% effective in preventing the original strain of COVID-19 and 86% effective against the U.K variant. It proved 55% effective against the South African variant in people without HIV/AIDS. It was also 100% effective at preventing severe illness.
On 2 February 2021, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada has signed a tentative agreement for Novavax to produce millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Montreal, Canada, once it’s approved for use by Health Canada, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine to be produced domestically.
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