U.S biotechnology company Novavax has added itself to the crowded field of companies racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Novavax’s experimental vaccine, known as NVX-CoV2373, was announced on April 8.
How Does NVX-CoV2372 Protect Against Coronavirus?
The experimental Novavax vaccine uses a unique adjuvant technology designed to neutralize the “spike protein” found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. This spike protein enters the host cell and causes infection, which is why NVX-CoV2373 seeks to neutralize it before infection occurs.
Novavax describes its experimental vaccine as “a stable, perfusion protein made using its proprietary nanoparticle technology.” The vaccine is designed to enhance immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies to render the coronavirus powerless.
When Will Novavax Begin Clinical Trials?
On May 25, Novavax announced the enrollment of the first participants in its Phase 1/2 randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial of NVX-CoV2373. The company hopes to report preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the Phase 1 portion of the trial by July 2020.
“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax. “We look forward to sharing the clinical results in July and, if promising, quickly initiating the Phase 2 portion of the trial.”
The Phase 1 portion of Novavax’s clinical trial will assess the safety and immune-building power of NVX-CoV2373 by testing about 130 healthy participants ages 18 to 59 years of age. Though Phase 1 will only take place at two sites in Australia, the Phase 2 portion is expected to be conducted in multiple countries, including the United States. Phase 2 will seek to assess immunity, safety, and COVID-19 disease reduction among a broader age range.
Novavax Prepares to Ramp Up Vaccine Production
In preparation for positive clinical trial results, Novavax is already preparing to meet production goals for its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Toward the end of May 2020, the Gaithersburg, MD company announced it had acquired Praha Vaccines, including its manufacturing facility in the Czech Republic. This 150,000-square-foot vaccine and biologics manufacturing facility “provides the vital assets required to produce more than 1 billion doses per year,” said Erck in a statement.
Novavax’s progress on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine has been met with positive feedback, including stock prices rising more than 912% per share since the beginning of the year.