This story was updated at 11:05 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2020, to include more information about Novavax’s expansion.
The biotechnology company Novavax — considered a frontrunner in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine — announced Monday that it is expanding its research and development operations in Gaithersburg, bringing at least 400 new jobs to the area within the next four years.
The company will occupy 122,000 square feet of space at 700 Quince Orchard Road to further its vaccine development, according to a press release from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.
According to the press release, Novavax has 450 employees around the world currently and plans to add the 400 local jobs by December 2024.
Most of the new jobs will be added by March, the press release stated. A press release from the city of Gaithersburg said the company “expects to add the majority of the positions by March 2021.”
“Novavax has been on the forefront in the fight against COVID-19, and we are proud to support this expansion and the new jobs that it will bring,” Hogan said in the state’s press release. “The work that Novavax is doing, right here in Maryland, will impact millions around the world as we continue on the road to recovery from this global pandemic.”
The Maryland Department of Commerce approved a $2 million loan contingent on job creation and capital investment, according to the state’s press release. The state has also approved a $200,000 Partnership for Workforce Quality training grant.
Montgomery County has approved a $500,000 grant for the company, contingent on job creation, and the Gaithersburg City Council is expected to approve a grant of “up to $50,000 from its Economic Development Opportunity Fund,” according to the city’s press release.
The city is also expected to expedite the development approval process because the project is associated with a public health crisis.
“We couldn’t be more happy and proud of both the important work Novavax is doing and their decision to make this long-term investment in our community,” Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman said in the press release. “This move further solidifies our city as the very heart of Maryland’s biotech corridor, and it gives everyone in our community a chance to cheer for the Novavax team as they work to eradicate this pandemic.”
Novavax has been awarded a $1.6 billion federal government contract to help develop a COVID-19 vaccine through the program Operation Warp Speed.
In an update posted to its website last week, Novavax wrote that it is the third phase of clinical trials. More than 5,500 people in the United Kingdom are enrolled in the trial.
Data from the first three phases are expected to be presented “as soon as early first quarter 2021,” Novavax said, and the data are “expected to serve as the basis for global licensure.”
A “pivotal” clinical trial is expected to begin in the United States and Mexico, which will include up to 30,000 participants, by the end of November, Novavax said.
During a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Novavax reported that, so far, the most common side effects of the vaccine during trials include headache, fatigue and muscle aches.
Novavax has been based in Montgomery County since 1993.