The federal government will pay the vaccine maker Novavax $1.6 billion to expedite the development of 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the beginning of next year, the company said on Tuesday.
The deal is the largest that the Trump administration has made so far with a company as part of Operation Warp Speed, the sprawling federal effort to make coronavirus vaccines and treatments available to the American public as quickly as possible. In doing so, the government has placed a significant bet on Novavax, a company based in Maryland that has never brought a product to market.
Operation Warp Speed is a multiagency effort that seeks to carry out President Trump’s pledge to make a coronavirus vaccine available by the end of the year, but the full extent of the project is still unclear. Officials have declined to list which vaccines and treatments are part of Operation Warp Speed.
In an interview on Sunday, Novavax’s president and chief executive, Stanley C. Erck, initially said he was not sure where in the government the $1.6 billion was coming from. A Novavax spokeswoman later said the money was coming from a “collaboration” between the Health and Human Services Department and the Defense Department.
In May, the administration announced it was awarding up to $1.2 billion as part of Operation Warp Speed to the British drugmaker AstraZeneca, which has said that its vaccine could be available by October. Four other companies — Moderna Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Sanofi — have also received federal assistance for their experimental coronavirus vaccines.
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