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Coronavirus

Novavax taps Japan's AGC to make ingredient in COVID-19 shot

Manufacturer produces compound for boosting vaccine candidate's effectiveness

Novavax's COVID-19 candidate vaccine is administered to a clinical trial participant in Australia in this Australian Broadcasting Corp. image. (Photo courtesy of Novavax)

TOKYO -- Chemical and materials group AGC has started producing an additive for a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by U.S. company Novavax, the Japanese manufacturer said Thursday.

U.S. subsidiary AGC Biologics has been contracted to produce an adjuvant, a compound that improves a vaccine's effectiveness. The agent is being manufactured at a plant in Denmark.

Novavax was one of the first vaccine developers to announce a candidate for the novel coronavirus. The biotechnology company has said it aims to produce 100 million doses by the end of the year.

Seattle-based AGC Biologics is tasked with making Novavax's proprietary saponin-based adjuvant, which helps immune cells recognize the virus and produce antibodies.

Formerly known as Asahi Glass, AGC has been expanding its contract manufacturing division, which supplies the medical field, in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a number of pharmaceutical-related orders for the Tokyo-based group.

An AGC Biologics plant in Germany's Heidelberg plans to make a compound for a different coronavirus vaccine candidate. The company's Seattle factory is manufacturing an ingredient for a potential COVID-19 treatment developed by CytoDyn, a biotech company.

Novavax began clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in Australia in May. Initial results from those trials are expected in July. In May, the company received a pledge of $380 million in additional funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

In Japan, biotech company AnGes is set to begin a clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine candidate in July, Nikkei reported earlier. AGC has been contracted by pharma industry supplier Takara Bio to make a compound for that effort.

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