May 11, 2020 / 9:04 PM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Epidemic response group to invest up to $384 mln in Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine

(Adds details on funding, background, share movement)

May 11 (Reuters) - The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will invest up to $384 million to help develop and produce Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the company said on Monday, sending its shares up 31.2% in extended trading.

CEPI, which was set up to fight emerging epidemics, said in March it would invest $4.4 million into deals with Novavax and Britain's University of Oxford to develop potential vaccines against COVID-19.

COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, has sickened more than 4.15 million people globally and caused over 282,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

CEPI's additional funding will support the clinical development of NVX-CoV2373, Novavax' vaccine candidate, through mid-stage testing and help scale-up manufacturing, the company said.

Novavax said the funds will be used to scale-up production of the vaccine by potentially allowing it to make up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020.

An early-stage trial will start this month in Australia and mid-stage trials in multiple countries will follow successful top-line results expected in July, Novavax said.

This brings CEPI's total investment in COVID-19 vaccine research and development to up to $446 million, the coalition said in a statement. (bit.ly/35QymNk)

CEPI has invested in the development of several other vaccine candidates against COVID-19, including projects with the U.S. firms CureVac, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna , and with the University of Queensland in Australia.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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