The U.S. government has tapped a sixth vaccine-maker to receive big federal bucks as the Trump administration races to approve a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year. But this latest vaccine candidate, from Maryland-based pharma Novavax, might be the riskiest yet.
Novavax has been in the pharmaceuticals business since 1987 but has yet to get a single vaccine past the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And Novavax’s vaccine candidate itself is risky. It’s what’s known as a “recombinant nanoparticle vaccine.” The key component is a lab-grown version of the spiky protein that’s a signature of the novel coronavirus, and which helps the virus bind to a person’s cells.
Novavax plans to grow the proteins in insect cells and then add them to the baculovirus, which would function as a carrier of the man-made proteins.