Canada announced its plan to buy 76 million doses of Novavax coronavirus vaccine. It aims to finalize the deal “as early as the second quarter of 2021.”
The agreement with the American vaccine developer is subject to the vaccine being granted a license from Health Canada.
Shares of Novavax increased by 2% in early morning trading on the news. The Novavax coronavirus vaccine, called NVX-CoV2373, is currently undergoing phase two trials. It has previously said it could start late-stage trials as early as October.
“We are moving forward with clinical development of NVX-CoV2373 with a strong sense of urgency in our quest to deliver a vaccine to protect the world,” Novavax CEO Stanley Erck said in a statement.
The company did not reveal the financial terms of the agreement.
“This is an important step in our government’s efforts to secure a vaccine to keep Canadians safe and healthy, as the global pandemic evolves,” Anita Anand, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement, said in a statement.
The agreement reflects how Western nations are rushing to develop a potential vaccine for the coronavirus, which has infected over 25.2 million people worldwide and killed at least 846,900 people, based on the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Canada presented similar deals with Pfizer and Moderna, which are also coming up with their own vaccines.
According to Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine doses will be in short supply once a candidate becomes cleared for public distribution in the US.
“At first, there will likely be a limited supply of one or more of the Covid-19 vaccines, because limited doses will be available,” Redfield said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “It’s important that the early vaccines are distributed in a fair, ethical and transparent way.”
Countries are securing supply for their residents through agreements like the one agreed to between Novavax and Canada.
The World Health Organization officials have constantly warned that demand for a safe and effective vaccine triggers competition between countries and could make prices higher.
“When a successful new vaccine is found, there will be greater demand than there is supply. Excess demand and competition for supply is already creating vaccine nationalism and risk of price gouging,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this month. “This is the kind of market failure that only global solidarity, public sector investment and engagement can solve.”
“Before spending another $10 trillion on the consequences of the next wave, we estimate that the world will need to spend at least $100 billion on new tools, especially any new vaccines that are developed,” Tedros said. “The development of vaccines is long, complex, risky and expensive. The vast majority of vaccines in early development fail. The world needs multiple vaccine candidates of different types to maximize the chances of finding a winning solution.”