Vaxart reduces workforce and pauses COVID-19 vaccine development
Vaxart began Phase I studies for its oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate in 2020, but revealed in full year financials that it would postpone further development plans. The company did state that it plans to continue to conduct preclinical development in the hope of being able to create “an oral pan-betacoronavirus vaccine.”
Alongside its plans to halt further COVID-19 clinical trials, the oral vaccine developer announced that it had reduced its workforce by 27% in the first quarter of 2023.
Both decisions were made by the company in order to prioritize the development of its norovirus program. The company is currently expanding an ongoing phase 2 study to include additional cohorts.
Vaxart expects the topline efficacy data from its phase 2 study in the third quarter of 2023. The company also initiated a Phase II dose-ranging study of its bivalent norovirus oral vaccine candidate, with data from this study expected to be available midway through 2023.
“After completing six norovirus clinical trials, we are encouraged by the robust immunogenicity data in both young adult and elderly populations and the encouraging safety profile of our oral norovirus program. We are therefore focusing our resources on our bivalent norovirus candidate and are excited about the two important upcoming data readouts from this program over the next two quarters,” said Andrei Floroiu, Vaxart’s CEO.
Floroiu highlighted that there is currently no approved vaccine against norovirus, and that the ‘global annual burden’ of the infectious disease is over $60bn (€55bn).
In terms of resources, Vaxart expects its cash reserve to allow it to operate into the second quarter of 2024. According to the company, it ended the 2022 financial year with $95.7m in cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash and marketable securities. During the year, the company reported a net loss of $107.8m for the full year.
Vaxart revealed that though it had held cash and deposits with Silicon Valley Bank, it had managed to move these deposits to ‘larger financial institutions’. The company stated that it does not anticipate any material impact as a result of the bank current circumstances.
The collapse of the bank recently put major stresses on the entire global financial banking system. Silicon Valley Bank was a major lender to the technology industry, but was also a significant provider of loans to the biotech industry.