Novavax, VaxInnate win $215M to develop better pandemic vaccines

The feds drive to whip up a bigger, faster supply of flu vaccine to fight pandemics has triggered a pair of new contracts initially totaling $215 million for Novavax and VaxInnate. Novavax shares jumped on its $97 million deal with Health and Human Services, which includes an option to up the ante to $179.1 million. And VaxInnate picked up a $118 million contract which could swell to $196 million.

HHS was left looking more than a little embarrassed during the recent swine flu pandemic when manufacturers failed to deliver early vaccine supplies as promised. The snafu left HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius insistent on the need to do better. 

"The 2009 H1N1 pandemic demonstrated the need for technologies that can provide vaccines more rapidly," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Monday. "These next-generation flu vaccines hold the potential to be even more effective and to make the first and last doses of vaccine available sooner than existing flu vaccines by weeks and months which can save more lives during a pandemic as well as during seasonal flu outbreaks."

For Novavax, the injection will provide support for three clinical trials using its pandemic influenza VLP vaccine candidate with
Adjuvants; a Phase II dose-ranging trial and a Phase III registration trial utilizing Novavax's seasonal influenza
VLP vaccine candidate; and development of a manufacturing facility plan that has the capability to produce finished vaccine
within twelve weeks and at least 50 million doses within six months of an influenza pandemic declaration.

"We are thrilled to work with BARDA to accelerate the development of a recombinant influenza vaccine
solution and help the U.S. government prepare for potential influenza pandemics," said Novavax's
President and CEO, Dr. Rahul Singhvi.

- read the Novavax release
- see the AP story