Continuing its robust effort to keep its citizens safe from Covid-19, Israel recently entered into an advance purchase agreement with Novavax Inc., a Maryland-based biotechnology company, to acquire 5 million doses of their new Covid-19 vaccine with an option to double that amount.
Brian Rosen, Novavax’s Senior Vice President, Global Market Access, Alliances, & Government Affairs, said, “Within 4-5 months of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were talking with Israel about providing our new vaccine.”
“We had already been working on NVX-CoV2373, which is based on our recombinant protein nanoparticle platform formulated with an adjuvant derived from the bark of a tree native to Chile,” Mr. Rosen added. “The company was ready when Covid-19 hit. Our technology platform had already proven immunogenic against earlier coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS. So, when Covid-19 appeared, we had the gene produced within a few weeks and began working on the new vaccine construct immediately.”
Novavax applied for FDA Emergency Use Authorization in January and will need to get regulatory approval from Israeli authorities as well. The company hopes to receive both as soon as possible so it can rapidly deliver its vaccine.
By May of 2020, Novavax had already received $400 million from CEPI, the Norwegian nonprofit that works to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases. Subsequently, it was awarded up to $1.6 billion (which has grown to $1.8 billion) from the American government’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine development program.
Novavax only had 130 employees when Covid-19 erupted. The company has since scaled up to over 1,500 people and is still growing. It has entered into several international partnerships to manufacture the vaccine with the goal of producing around 2 billion doses per year.
Novavax President and CEO Stanley C. Erck said, “Israel has been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 and has demonstrated strong leadership throughout the pandemic. We thank the Israeli Ministry of Health for their commitment to providing a protein-based Covid-19 vaccine option, based on well-understood technology, to the people of Israel.”
The Maryland/Israel Development Center has met with Novavax to promote collaboration with Israel.