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Novavax delays 100 million vaccines to the EU

Published on 26/03/21 at 10:56am
Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

Novavax is delaying the signing of a contract to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the EU, as the company warned it was struggling to source some raw materials for the vaccine’s manufacture.

The company had planned to supply the EU with 100 million doses of its vaccine, with an option for a further 100 million. This blow comes in a week where the EU has drawn criticism for its vaccination rollout programmes amid a third wave hitting the continent.

The EU has also faced supply issue from other COVID-19 vaccine producers, most notably AstraZeneca, which has led the EU immunisation campaign to lag far behind vaccinations in the UK and US.

The news comes from an anonymous EU official involved in the deal Novavax, who spoke to Reuters on Thursday, saying the company was “working through some pandemic-related raw material supply shortages”, which is causing the delays.

Novavax has eight manufacturing locations, including the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, and has plans to produce key components of its two-dose vaccines for the EU in several of its factories.

One of the company’s main factories is based in the Czech Republic, making antigens, the inactivated organisms that trigger an immune response. However, the EU official said production capacity at the plant, the only one in the EU, was too small the meet the needs of the 27-nation bloc.

Novavax concluded exploratory talks on vaccine supply with the EU in mid-December, a step that has usually been followed by the signature of a contract within two or three months. However, the timeline for the agreement is now unclear.

The European Commission, which coordinates talks with vaccine makers, declined to comment.

Novavax is currently working towards submitting its application for regulatory approval in the EU, its vaccine has been assessed by the EU drugs regulator under a rolling review since early February.

Earlier in March, Novavax announced final efficacy of 96.4% against mild, moderate, and severe disease caused by the original COVID-19 strain in its Phase III trial.

Kat Jenkins


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