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Novavax Begins Animal Testing for Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate

Novavax says it's ready to advance its vaccine candidate to Phase I clinical testing in May or June.
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Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Novavax Inc. Report shares jumped Thursday after the company announced that it was beginning animal testing for its potential coronavirus vaccine candidates with plans to use those tests to determine which would be best suited to try on humans.

The company developed the candidates using its proprietary recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform.

“Our previous experience working with other coronaviruses, including both MERS and SARS, allowed us to mobilize quickly against Covid-19 and successfully complete the critical preliminary steps to engineer viable vaccine candidates,” said CEO Stanley C. Erck.

Novavax touted its “proven track record” of producing rapid innovative vaccines against previous coronaviruses, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) andSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

“We are now well-positioned to advance the Covid-19 vaccine candidate to Phase I clinical testing in May or June,” Erck said.

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Novavax was gaining more than 24% to $11.50 in trading Thursday.

Last month, the company announced plans to use its recombinant nanoparticle technology patents to develop a vaccine.

Novavax is one of several companies working on a vaccine.

Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences Inc. Report rose Thursday after the drugmaker said its nascent coronavirus treatment will undergo advance human testing in Asia.

Gilead said that around 1,000 patients in the region, suffering from both moderate and severe symptoms of Covid-19 will be given varying doses of remdesivir as part of a Phase 3 study. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization said remdesivir may be the "only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy" in treating the rapidly-spreading disease, which has infected more than 82,000 people around the world and caused at least 2,800 deaths. 

Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral that hasn't yet been approved anywhere globally for any use.