By Carl O’Donnell and Amruta Khandekar
(Reuters) -Novavax Inc said on Thursday it has agreed to start shipping doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the COVAX program in the third quarter of 2021 in an effort to deliver on its promise to provide 1.1 billion shots to the global vaccination program.
Novavax said it will manufacture and ship 350 million shots itself. India’s Serum Institute (SII) will provide the remainder of the 1.1 billion shots to COVAX through a separate agreement.
The COVAX facility is a global initiative aimed at access to COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries. It is co-led by GAVI, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
GAVI’s chief executive, Seth Berkley, said in a statement that the deal is “a major step towards our goal of delivering 2 billion doses of safe and effective vaccines in 2021.”
Novavax reached an preliminary agreement with COVAX in February to make and deliver 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine in partnership with SII.
Its shot has yet to be authorized by regulators in any country but it has posted late stage trial data that shows it is highly effective against the original variant of COVID-19 and a newer variant first found in Britain.
Novavax said it will get an upfront payment from GAVI later this month and an additional payment following an emergency use listing for its vaccine by the World Health Organization.
Reuters reported in March that Novavax delayed its supply agreements with the European Union because of production problems, including shortages of raw materials used in making its vaccine. Serum has also said that it was having difficulty obtaining the materials needed to make the Novavax vaccine.
Reuters reported earlier this week the company told the European Union it plans to begin delivering its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the bloc towards the end of this year.
(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Cynthia Osterman)