Novavax CEO Talks $1.6B Federal Funding Win, Ex-FDA Chief Says It's A 'Good Bet'

The U.S. government awarded Novavax, Inc. NVAX $1.6 billion in funding to support its COVID-19 vaccine, and the company is confident it has the capability to produce 100 million doses by the end of the year, Novavax CEO Stanley Erck said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Novavax On Track For 100M Doses: Novavax got straight to work on a vaccine in January as soon as the gene sequencing of the virus was first identified, Erck said.

The company was quick to use a manufacturing platform similar to other vaccines to scale up, the CEO said. 

The government grant as part of Operation Warp Speed allows the company to better proceed with the "very expensive" Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials to show a vaccine is safe, effective and stable, he said.

The trial will also evaluate if a person needs one or two doses of the vaccine for effective protection, Erck said. 

The grant also allows Novavax to immediately start producing large quantities of the vaccine in multiple countries, the CEO said.

This puts the company on a timeline to begin shipping doses in the fourth quarter of 2020 and complete the initial 100 million units shipped by the first quarter of 2021, he told CNBC. 

Gottlieb Says Funding A 'Good Bet': The government is making a "good bet" by adding Novavax to its funding program, ex-FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb also said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

The other "bets" made by the government consist of mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccines.

In contrast, Novavax's protein vaccine represents a differentiated platform, even if the company is "a little further behind" other peers, Gottlieb said.

"I don't know if the Novavax vaccine will be available this year but it is good we are placing bets on these kinds of platforms."

NVAX Price Action: Novavax shares were up 31.03% at $104.09 at the time of publication Tuesday.

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