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Novavax COVID-19 vaccine will be available ‘next week,’ CEO says

Novavax CEO Stan Erck joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the CDC recommending Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults, COVID vaccine distribution, the vaccine demand, and the outlook for an Omicron vaccine.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. The CDC this week recommended a newly authorized vaccine from Novavax to be used for an adult COVID-19 vaccine. Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani is here alongside Novavax CEO Stanley Erck to discuss. Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Thank you, Brian. Stan, good to have you back. You've reached the finish line. Let's talk about the next steps. I know you've got doses getting into those government distribution centers this week and then going out to the general public. But what else is left on the table for Novavax to get done?

STANLEY ERCK: Well, a lot. So we will-- so it's been a big week, obviously, with EUA, with FDA approval of our doses that we've shipped to the United States. It's getting distributed tomorrow to the government distribution system. It will be available to the public by sometime during the week next week. And then we go from there.

But what we're also working on is what our approval for was for people who hadn't been vaccinated before and adults over 18. The next approval we think will come in in hopefully in the next week or two will expand the label, as they call it, down to 18 adolescents from 12 to 18 years old, and then subsequently expand that for boosters so that you'll be recommended to boost any vaccine with our vaccine.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: How quickly do you expect that timeline for the boosters? Because I know a lot of people are waiting on that right now.

STANLEY ERCK: I know. I read about it in my email basket every day.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: All right.

STANLEY ERCK: So the timeline is the FDA has data now that shows how our booster works and it works well. They may require additional data we're filing with new data over the coming weeks. And I would expect we have an opportunity that the FDA could take the approach that, for instance, Europe, and Australia, and Japan have done, which is to recommend it for boosting right away. They might wait for more data. And if so, it'll be more toward the end of the summer.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Sounds good. So hopefully in time for that fall booster campaign--

STANLEY ERCK: That's exactly right.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Let's talk about the manufacturing part, because I know that's the thing that really slowed you down in the beginning. And now that you've reached this point, what do you anticipate moving forward in terms of where these vaccines will continue to be manufactured and what the future expansion looks like?

STANLEY ERCK: Well, it's-- I mean, obviously, it's an issue that we've gotten through. We had to go through the first inspection by the FDA of our manufacturing facility. They did that in May. They had a very extensive inspection that came out-- we came out, really, in flying colors. And that's why we've now moved to this point where we've got approval, we've got approval of the manufactured product in the United States.

So now we just get into a routine cadence at the plant in India. And we have our own plant in the Czech Republic, which has lots of capacity, and a third manufacturing center in Korea. So we have global manufacturing capacity. They're all cranking out product right now. And we'll be making not only the current vaccine, but we'll be looking to make the Omicron vaccine if it's necessary.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: What has that been-- that journey for you, looking back now, that relationship that was crafted with manufacturers in the US, do you think that those will play a role moving forward at all? Or are you pretty content with leaving the manufacturing overseas?

STANLEY ERCK: I think it's-- I think we have excellent manufacturing capacity overseas. And I don't think it matters where we make it at this point. We'll keep our eyes open for expanding manufacturing in North America. But that's a longer term decision to be making.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Now, looking at where the doses are, I know that the US purchased 3.2 million doses and those are all being released now for this first bunch. Moving forward, though, do you have any other conversations ongoing, especially for within the US or within governments-- I know previously you had a contract with the DOD and elsewhere. Do you see room for that right now, especially in conversations about the boosters?

STANLEY ERCK: Well, I do. I have high hopes for the US distribution of our product. The first 3.2 million doses went to both the CDC and the DOD. So we were fulfilling both of those obligations. And our expectation, our hope, is that the demand for this will encourage the CDC and the US government to continue to buy more batches.

And we're talking to them about the next batch right now. And that's before we get to the fall season. And I think there's going to be a fairly large demand in the fall as BA.5 Omicron variant continues to spike and we go into what may be the respiratory vaccine season starting in September and October.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Certainly seems like it. I know you're working on that combo as well. But let's talk about the pricing and the competition. You are definitely in a competitive space now. Are you pricing that way as well? I know we haven't gotten much insight into the doses pricing right now.

STANLEY ERCK: No. But that's because the pricing is not transparent because it's part of a very large $1 billion-plus contract, which covers the manufacture of some of these doses. As we get into subsequent doses, we will form a pricing strategy with the US government at first, and hopefully as it turns into a standard commercial product, we'll develop pricing there.

I don't think we haven't published-- we haven't decided and haven't published what the pricing will be. But my guess is it will be in the range of what other vaccines are charging, which has recently been in the $30 range.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And last question here-- give us a quick update on globally the demand that you're seeing, because I know you've managed to get authorization in a number of countries as well as within that adolescent age group. So as it stands right now, do we see demand tapering off a little bit compared to early on?

STANLEY ERCK: No. I think that it takes time to get-- it takes time to get into the distribution system. And so we only started real distribution at the end of the first quarter. So in the second quarter, we've got vaccine going into arms in Korea, and Australia, in the European Union, and Canada.

And I think it's going along fine. We've got over five million doses in arms right now, including in Indonesia. And we expect to see that continue to rise, particularly as we get closer to the fall.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Absolutely. Well, Stan, thank you so much. Novavax CEO, thanks for joining us again. Back to you, Brian.