Washington (AFP)

Donald Trump's government announced Tuesday that it has granted $ 1.6 billion to US biotech Novavax for its Covid-19 vaccine project, guaranteeing the United States priority of the first 100 million doses in case of efficacy proven.

The Donald Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed ​​to try to produce 300 million doses of vaccine by January 2021 to vaccinate Americans first.

It has invested billions of dollars in projects of several biotechs and laboratories to finance clinical trials and, in parallel, the construction of manufacturing sites for future vaccines on a very large scale - not to mention the purchase of 92% of production of the antiviral remdesivir until September, the only drug that has proven to be relatively effective on patients with Covid-19.

"Operation Warp Speed ​​is creating a vaccine portfolio to increase the chances that we will have at least one safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year," said Alex Azar, secretary of health.

The investment by the Ministries of Health and Defense in Novavax, based in Maryland, should guarantee the manufacture of 100 million doses by the end of this year, to be used in clinical trials and, possibly, for a campaign of vaccination in case of approval.

Novavax began clinical trials on 130 people in Australia in May, with funding from CEPI, a public-private coalition dedicated to funding vaccines; the results are not yet known. It should launch the so-called phase 3 trial (the last and largest) in the fall, with up to 30,000 participants, according to a press release.

His vaccine project is called NVX ‑ CoV2373.

The United States had previously invested about two billion dollars in the vaccine projects of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and AstraZeneca (in partnership with Oxford), the latter two being the most advanced.

Operation Warp Speed, according to the Ministry of Health on June 16, had initially selected 14 projects, then reduced to seven.

On Tuesday, Washington also announced $ 450 million to Regeneron for its experimental treatment (REGN-COV2) against Covid-19, unproven but currently being tested on both Covid-19 patients (in the United States -United States, Brazil, Mexico and Chile), and on uninfected people but recently exposed to the virus (in the United States).

The first results could be announced this summer. To date, only remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone have demonstrated efficacy in patients with coronavirus.

© 2020 AFP