Biotechnology firm Novavax has acquired Czech Republic-based Praha Vaccines for approximately $167m to support the manufacture of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373.

The acquisition covers a 150,000ft2 vaccine and biologics manufacturing facility and related assets in Bohumil, Czech Republic, as well as the existing employees along with all associated and necessary infrastructure.

Novavax estimates that the manufacturing facility will enable an annual capacity of more than one billion doses of antigen, from next year, for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

Praha Vaccines is a subsidiary of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group, the parent company of Serum Institute of India focused on manufacturing immuno-biologicals.

In March, Serum Institute of India and Novavax signed a commercial license agreement to leverage Novavax’s Matrix-M vaccine adjuvant with the institute’s malaria vaccine candidate.

Novavax president and CEO Stanley Erck said: “This acquisition provides the vital assets required to produce more than one billion doses per year.

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“In parallel with ramping up production at Bohumil, we will continue efforts to expand antigen capacity in the US and Asia, and increase production of Matrix-M to match antigen capacity at multiple sites globally.”

The acquisition of Praha Vaccines is supported by funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which allows Novavax to boost its manufacturing capacity.

As part of the deal, about 150 employees with experience in vaccine manufacturing and support have transferred to Novavax.

Furthermore, Novavax will collaborate with the Serum Institute of India to boost manufacturing capacity at the Bohumil facility by the end of this year.

Cyrus Poonawalla Group chairman and founder Cyrus Poonawalla said: “We believe Novavax and Praha reflect the ideal complement of capabilities and expertise to advance innovative vaccines that are vitally needed at this critical time.

“We are confident that the technologies and employees are in good hands and look forward to continuing our collaborations with Novavax.”

Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is currently in a Phase IIb clinical trial.