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Novavax Initiates Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 May 2020
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Novavax, Inc. (Gaithersburg, MD, USA) has begun enrollment of the first participants in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373, a stable, prefusion protein made using its proprietary nanoparticle technology.

NVX‑CoV2373 includes Novavax’ proprietary Matrix‑M adjuvant to enhance immune responses and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies. Novavax identified NVX‑CoV2373 as its lead SARS-CoV-2 candidate following pre-clinical testing that demonstrated high immunogenicity and high levels of neutralizing antibodies. These results provide strong evidence that the vaccine candidate will be highly immunogenic in humans, potentially leading to protection from COVID‑19 and thus helping to control the spread of this disease. Preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the Phase 1 portion of the trial are expected in July 2020.

The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being conducted in two parts. The Phase 1 portion is a randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled trial designed to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of NVX‑CoV2373, both adjuvanted with Matrix‑M and unadjuvanted. The trial is enrolling approximately 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia. The protocol’s two-dose trial regimen assesses two dose sizes (5 and 25 micrograms) with Matrix‑M and without.

The Phase 2 portion is expected to be conducted in multiple countries, including the US, and would assess immunity, safety and COVID‑19 disease reduction in a broader age range. This Phase 1/2 approach allows for rapid advancement of NVX‑CoV2373 during the pandemic. The trial is being supported by the recently announced funding arrangement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax. “We look forward to sharing the clinical results in July and, if promising, quickly initiating the Phase 2 portion of the trial.”

“Entering clinical trials is an important step on the path to delivering a safe, effective and globally accessible vaccine against COVID-19,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI. “Vaccines provide our best hope of permanently defeating this pandemic, so it is encouraging to see rapid progress being made in the development of Novavax’ vaccine candidate. CEPI’s priority in building our portfolio has been to focus on vaccine candidates with the potential to be developed at speed and scale and made globally accessible. Our investment in Novavax allows us to focus on manufacturing in parallel with the clinical development of the vaccine, so that if the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, we can make doses available to those who need them without delay.”

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