Japan cancels 140M dose order for Novavax Covid vaccine amid 'lower than expected' demand
Japan has canceled an order for more than 140 million doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine, Takeda revealed in an SEC filing.
The country initially agreed in 2021 to purchase 150 million doses of the vaccine from Takeda, which has been producing Novavax’s vaccine at its Hikari-based facility. But after only purchasing 8.24 million doses, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has canceled the remaining 141.76 million doses.
“We are seeing low market demand for Nuvaxovid, lower than expected given the current situation of vaccination in Japan and prevalence of Omicron,” Costa Saroukos, CFO at Takeda, said during the company’s Q3 call last week.
Because the doses were being manufactured as orders from the government came in, there will be no “disposal” of doses as a result of the cancelation, Takeda said in the filing on Friday.
“Available doses of Nuvaxovid already supplied to the market can still be used as an option for individuals who cannot receive a bivalent omicron mRNA vaccine, or who wish to receive a recombinant protein vaccine,” the SEC filing reads.
However, this may not be the end of Takeda’s partnership with Maryland-based Novavax in Japan. Takeda said it’s working with Novavax to develop vaccines against future variants of Covid-19, and it will “continue to work closely with the MHLW on the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in FY 2023, including the potential delivery of vaccines for the Omicron variant.”
Two weeks ago, Novavax CMO Filip Dubovsky said during the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee that the company is prepared to deliver “either a monovalent or a bivalent vaccine for the 2023-2024 vaccination season” based on FDA guidance. The committee voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.
Takeda said the cancelation is “immaterial” and doesn’t change the full-year consolidated forecasts for the fiscal year ending in March.
According to the SEC filing, “there is no change in the approximately 50.0 billion JPY revenue contribution from COVID-19 vaccines, including Spikevax Intramuscular Injection, in FY2022.”
The Novavax shot was originally approved in Japan in April of last year for primary and booster immunization in individuals aged 18 and older. Distribution in Japan began in May 2022.
Takeda and Novavax declined to share additional information other than what was in the SEC filing.
Editor’s Note: The story has been corrected to reference Takeda’s Q3 recent report, not Q4.