Aug. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. drugmaker Novavax announced Monday it has reached an agreement in principle to supply Canada's federal government with up to 76 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The agreement covering Novavax's experimental NVX-CoV2373 candidate will become effective should it receive approval from Health Canada regulators, the company said in a statement.
Under the deal, Novavax is expected to start supplying doses as early as the second quarter of next year.
"We are pleased to work with the Canadian government on supply of our COVID-19 vaccine, an essential step to ensure broad access of our vaccine candidate," company CEO Stanley Erck said. "We are moving forward with clinical development of NVX-CoV2373 with a strong sense of urgency in our quest to deliver a vaccine to protect the world."
"This is an important step in our government's efforts to secure a vaccine to keep Canadians safe and healthy, as the global pandemic evolves," added Anita Anand, Canada's minister of public services and procurement.
The vaccine is currently undergoing second-stage trials in the United States, Australia and South Africa, for which it has received $15 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier, the company announced positive results in the stage-one portion of the study.
NVX-CoV2373 is one of several "protein subunit" COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world. These types of vaccines don't contain any live pathogens and instead use smaller pieces, or subunits, of the virus to trigger a protective immune response.
They are considered safer than "whole pathogen" vaccines, but elicit weaker responses and so may require the use of an "adjuvant" to boost their effectiveness.
A number of potential coronavirus vaccines are now in various stages of development. Click here for our COVID-19 vaccine tracker.