- The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, will invest up to $328 million to help Clover Biopharmaceuticals develop a coronavirus vaccine, boosting its funding after previously committing nearly $70 million to the effort earlier this year.
- Clover will use the money for a late-stage trial slated to begin before the end of 2020 as well as for studies in special populations, such as people with autoimmune conditions and pregnant women, the China-based biotech said.
- Money will also go toward ramping up production, allowing the company to quickly supply doses to the COVAX Facility, an World Health Organization initiative co-led by CEPI that's working to distribute COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The award is a vote of confidence in the Chinese drugmaker's vaccine candidate.
Only two other experimental vaccines have drawn bigger potential investments from CEPI, and both are further along in the development process. The group has promised as much as $388 million to Novavax and as much as $383 million to a partnership of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, each of which have candidates that have either begun Phase 3 trials or soon will.
Like Novavax, Clover is testing a protein-based vaccine with an immune-boosting adjuvant, a more traditional immunization approach than some of the other leading candidates. The company has partnered with GlaxoSmithKline to test whether adding the British drugmaker's adjuvant can improve the effectiveness of its shot.
Preclinical studies and Phase 1 data from healthy volunteers suggest Clover's vaccine can be given safely and generate immune responses, the company said, but specific details haven't been disclosed yet. The Phase 1 results will be published in a peer-reviewed publication in the "near future," it said in September.
As with other drugmakers racing to confront the pandemic, Clover is preparing for large-scale manufacturing even before its vaccine has proven safe and effective in a pivotal trial. The company has said it may be able to produce more than 1 billion doses annually.
Manufacturing supported by the CEPI award may produce hundreds of millions of doses a year for the COVAX Facility, Clover said.
CEPI has raised $1.3 billion to support coronavirus vaccine development and aims to add another $800 million. The group has invested in nine vaccine candidates in hopes that three are found safe and effective and made available around the world through COVAX.