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Top U.S. trade negotiator discusses COVID-19 vaccine ramp-up with Novavax

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is not currently authorised for use in the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed increasing COVID-19 vaccine production in a virtual meeting on April 27 with an executive of drugmaker Novavax, Ms. Tai’s office said in a statement.

Ms. Tai and Novavax Executive Vice President John Trizzino also discussed a proposal before the World Trade Organisation to waive certain intellectual property rights in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the USTR statement said.

“Ambassador Tai sought Mr. Trizzino’s views on steps Novavax is taking to quickly increase equitable production and distribution of vaccines in the United States and around the world,” the statement said.

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is not currently authorised for use in the United States.

WTO members are due to discuss a proposal by India and South Africa to waive certain provisions of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights on April 30, but the United States and a few other big countries have blocked such a move.

Democratic lawmakers, civil society groups, and 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners have urged U.S. President Joe Biden to back the waiver.

Shares of Novavax surged 16% in extended trading on April 27 after Mr. Biden said the United States was planning to share COVID-19 vaccines with countries in need of aid.

The company is expected to report data from its ongoing large, late-stage study in the United States and Mexico during the second quarter of this year.

Ms. Tai held virtual meetings on April 26 with vaccine makers Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Meeting with South Korean President

Novavax Chief Executive Stanley Erck met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 and said he was in talks with SK bioscience, the vaccine arm of SK Chemicals, to extend production and technology transfer agreements until 2022.

SK bioscience plans to start producing the Novavax COVID-19 vaccines as soon as the approval comes and manufacture 40 million doses to supply South Korea.

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