Novavax Shares Surge 7% As It Begins Late-Stage COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

(Benzinga) – Novavax, Inc (NASDAQ: NVAX) said Thursday it was launching a large-scale diverse Phase 3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom — causing a more than 7% spike in the company’s shares after the closing bell.

What Happened: The study will enroll up to 100,000 individuals, aged between 18-84 years of age, with and without relevant comorbidities, Novavax said in a statement.

The drugmaker said that the trial is being conducted in partnership with the U.K. government’s Vaccines Taskforce and will last over the next four to six weeks.

The Maryland-based drugmaker will enroll at least 25% of participants over the age of 65 to prioritize groups it said were most affected by COVID-19, which includes racial and ethnic minorities.

Why It Matters: Novavax said it has secured $2 billion in funding for its worldwide vaccine program, which includes $388 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, co-founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Earlier this month, another beneficiary of the Gates Foundation, Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) said participants in its late-stage study only showed mild-to-moderate side effects.

Pfizer and Moderna Inc’s (NASDAQ: MRNA) vaccines may be the first to be distributed in late October or November in the United States, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca plc’s (NYSE: AZN) vaccine trials have yet to resume in the U.S., after being halted due to an adverse reaction earlier, leading to scientists questioning the suspension of the trial.

Price Action: Novavax shares rose nearly 7.3% to $109.95 in the after-hours session on Thursday after closing the regular session almost 0.9% higher at $102.44.


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