How a struggling company won $1.6 billion to make a coronavirus vaccine

In February, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) invested $388 million in Novavax's coronavirus vaccine, which uses moth cells to quickly produce key molecules.

In February, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) invested $388 million in Novavax's coronavirus vaccine, which uses moth cells to quickly produce key molecules. Although Novavax had never brought a vaccine to market in its 33-year history, executives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped found and finance the nonprofit, were enthusiastic about the company's technology. The Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed program to accelerate vaccine development recently awarded the company $1.6 billion, the largest award to date. The Trump administration has said it wants to invest in a variety of vaccine technologies, and Novavax offers an approach that is both distinct and has the potential to quickly manufacture doses. This spring's success of a clinical trial of Novavax's influenza vaccine boosted confidence in the company, but some are skeptical. Novavax has developed experimental vaccines for a number of viruses that never made it past early safety studies. So far, the government has promised nearly $4 billion to six vaccine projects, but many aspects of the deals are confidential. Novavax's vaccine is now in safety trials, and results are expected soon.