By Maureen Marino
Earlier this week, the HHS doubled down on new vaccine technology. The government granted Maryland-based Novavax a contract worth up to $179.1 million, while Cranbury, NJ’s VaxInnate picked up a potential $196 million deal. Both companies are developing new approaches to seasonal and pandemic influenza that could help the country move away from slower, less reliable egg-based manufacturing.
The HHS has taken a systematic, portfolio-like approach to funding vaccine development in the U.S. In the mid-2000s, the federal government moved to secure egg-based vaccine manufacturing, putting its money into established technology to guarantee the vaccine supply. Then it started the next round of funding for cell culture production, and in the latest round, it has funded recombinant cell culture based technology. Three awards have been granted in this area, Novavax CEO Rahul Singhvi (pictured) explained in an interview with FierceVaccines. The first was granted to Protein Sciences in 2009; the company has yet to win approval for its seasonal flu vaccine, FluBlok, which was made by inserting flu genes into an insect virus and growing it in caterpillar ovary cells. Novavax and VaxInnate account for the other two contracts.