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Will Novavax's (NVAX) Strategic Reshaping Curb Cash Burn?

Though Novavax, Inc. NVAX is one of a handful of vaccine makers that have secured authorizations for its COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, it still struggles to establish a foothold in the target market.

This protein-based COVID-19 vaccine is currently the only marketed product in Novavax’s portfolio and utilizes the company’s proprietary nanoparticle technology. NVAX is currently marketing different versions of this vaccine — one in partnership with the Serum Institute of India (Serum) under the trade name Covovax and the other produced by Novavax, which is marketed under the trade name Nuvaxovid. In the United States, the vaccine is marketed as Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, Adjuvanted.

At the time when the pandemic was at its peak, Novavax faced manufacturing issues, which delayed its regulatory filing timeline. As a result, the companymissed out on the COVID-19 vaccine windfall, which benefited the mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer PFE/BioNTech BNTX and Moderna MRNA. The mRNA-based vaccines were also the first ones authorized by the FDA in 2020.

By the time Novavax was granted authorization for its vaccine, most of the population had already completed primary vaccination using Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s approved mRNA-based vaccines. The early launch of mRNA-based vaccines helped these vaccine makers establish a firm hold on the market.


As the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, the demand for COVID-19 vaccines has dropped. As a result, management started experiencing declining and/or minimal sales from the COVID-19 vaccine. This, in turn, raised uncertainties about generating revenues from COVID-19 vaccine sales. Based on these uncertainties, management expressed concerns about its ability to continue as a going concern beyond February 2025.

To rationalize its manufacturing footprint and reduce costs, the company has undertaken multiple restructuring initiatives. These initiatives have not only helped the company in bringing down its current costs but also reduced short-term liabilities by around $800 million last year. In January, management decided to undertake another cost reduction plan, wherein it will reduce its global workforce by 12%.

The company is also progressing well with the development of its other vaccine candidates, i.e., stand-alone influenza, COVID-19-influenza combination (CIC) and high-dose COVID vaccines. All of these candidates are currently being evaluated in a phase II study in older adults aged 50 through 80. In May 2023, Novavax reported positive top-line results from this study that showed that all three vaccines were well-tolerated and demonstrated preliminary robust immune responses compared with authorized comparators.

Based on the above data, management intends to start a pivotal phase III study on the CIC vaccine before this year’s end, with the intent to market the same in 2026 commercially.

Novavax’s target market is highly competitive. The company faces stiff competition from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna not only for the COVID-19 vaccine but also for the pipeline vaccines. These companies are far ahead of Novavax in terms of marketing and distribution of their vaccines and have already catered to billions of people across the globe.

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