Type: Stable, prefusion protein made using Novavax’ proprietary nanoparticle technology, and incorporating its proprietary saponin-based Matrix-M™ adjuvant.
Status: Novavax said November 9 that the FDA granted its Fast Track designation for NVX-CoV2373—and announced plans to begin a Phase III trial in the U.S. and Mexico by the end of November. Also by then, the company expects 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.
COVID-19: 300 Candidates and Counting
To navigate through the >300 potential therapeutic and vaccine options for COVID-19, GEN has grouped the candidates into four broad categories based on their developmental and (where applicable) clinical progress:
● FRONT RUNNER – the most promising therapeutics/vaccines based on clinical progress, favorable data or both.
● DEFINITELY MAYBE – earlier phases with promising partners, or more advanced candidates in development that have generated uneven data
● KEEPING AN EYE ON… – interesting technology, attracting notable partners, or both, but preliminary data.
● TOO SOON TO TELL – longshots pending additional experimental and/or clinical data.
GEN has also tagged the most common treatment types: