Clover Biopharma nabs $250M-plus for COVID-19 vaccine in expanded CEPI deal

China’s Clover Biopharma is getting another boost as it gears up for a global, pivotal trial of its COVID-19 vaccine. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is adding $258.5 million to a deal the partners initially struck in April this year, which will see the candidate through a phase 2/3 study and licensure in China and other countries.

CEPI ponied up $3.5 million in April to help Clover push the vaccine into phase 1. It followed with another $66 million in July to bankroll preclinical studies and the phase 1 trial, as well as help the company scale up manufacturing. All told, the deal could be worth $328 million.

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Clover’s subunit vaccine, called S-Trimer, targets the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The company expects to begin the phase 2/3 study by the end of the year with eyes on approvals in China and elsewhere in 2021.

The funding will also bankroll studies in specific patient groups, including people with autoimmune conditions, immunocompromised people, pregnant women and children.

Clover hopes to ramp up manufacturing enough to produce more than one billion doses of the vaccine per year and plans to provide doses to COVAX, a global effort to develop, produce and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The company joins the likes of Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, which have agreed to provide 200 million doses of their vaccine to COVAX.

COVAX is a global group of governments, health groups, businesses and nonprofits that are aiming to speed coronavirus vaccine research and manufacturing, plus ensure equitable distribution. Established vaccine groups Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, along with the World Health Organization, are co-leading the effort.

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Inovio, Moderna, Curevac and Novavax are among Clover’s peers that have also won CEPI backing, with Novavax nabbing the largest CEPI deal so far with a grant that could total $384 million.