With supply timelines more certain, Novavax closes in on a COVID-19 vaccine deal with Europe: report

COVID-19 vaccine
In late March, Novavax had warned the EU of possible production problems of its COVID-19 vaccine. The company now has a better handle on its supply timeline and it could soon lead to a contract between the two. (Kunal Mahto/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Novavax and Europe appear to be close to finalizing a COVID-19 vaccine supply deal.

The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotech has told the bloc that it plans to begin sending doses to Europe before the end of the year, Reuters reports.

The two came to a tentative agreement in December for a supply of up to 200 million doses of the protein-based vaccine. But in late March, a EU official told Reuters the company was delaying negotiations because it was having difficulty securing raw materials to produce the shot. 

Three weeks ago, Novavax CEO Stanley Erck told The Observer that a shortage of 2,000-liter bags was a threat to the global supply of vaccines. As that report emerged, Novavax warned that its goal of supplying 150 million doses per month globally had been pushed from the end of the second quarter to the third.  

While Novavax still has production concerns, “now they have a delivery schedule," an EU source told Reuters.

Under current timelines, Novavax expects to starting sending shipments to Europe before the end of the year. The company would fulfill the bulk of the contract in 2022. 

The Novavax vaccine has yet to be approved in the U.S. or Europe. But Novavax’s shot seems poised to get a nod in the U.S. before the AstraZeneca vaccine, Politico reported last week.

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The U.S. bet on the success of the Novavax vaccine in the development stage, providing the company a $1.6 billion grant. In return, Novavax agreed to supply 100 million doses to the U.S.

In February, Novavax announced it will provide 1.1 billion vaccine doses to the COVAX worldwide supply program.

A deal between Novaax and the EU also would continue a trend of the bloc diversifying away from the AstraZeneca shot, which has been plagued by supply problems and safety concerns. Pfizer-BioNTech recently agreed to provide 1.8 billion vaccine doses to Europe in 2022-23. 

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The EU also told AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson that it would not renew contracts with both vaccine makers. Both produce adenovirus type vaccines which have been linked to rare and severe blood clots.

Last month when the EU announced its deal with Pfizer-BioNTech, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen also said that the bloc was open to using other types of shots including "protein-based vaccines, (which) have also quite a potential."

In addition to Novavax, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are jointly developing a protein-based vaccine.