GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed in principle to support manufacturing of up to 60 million doses of Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate – NVX-CoV2373 – for use in the UK.

GSK has agreed with Novavax and the UK government Vaccines Taskforce to provide fill and finish manufacturing capacity at its Barnard Castle facility in the North East of England, starting as early as May 2021.

Fill and finish is the completion stage of vaccine manufacturing – during this stage, vials of the final vaccine are prepared and packaged for distribution and use.

According to GSK, the parties will negotiate a final agreement to include additional terms and conditions, although technology transfer between the two companies is set to begin ‘immediately’.

The protein antigen component of NVX-CoV2373 is produced by Novavax’ manufacturing partner FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies at its site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

“I’m delighted by GSK’s investment, which shows the strength of UK manufacturing, and will further boost our vaccine rollout,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The Vaccines Taskforce has worked hand in glove with business to successfully deliver vaccines to the whole of the UK, and this agreement will continue to support our approach. We remain on track to offer a first jab to all over 50s by 15 April, and all adults by the end of July, and I want to once again encourage everyone to come forward for a vaccine when you’re called,” he added.

The UK government has signed an advance purchase agreement with Novavax for 60 million doses of NVX-CoV2373.