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

Novavax, Inc 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 PFE said participants in its late-stage study only showed mild-to-moderate side effects.

Pfizer and Moderna Inc’s 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 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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