Novavax Inc said on Wednesday it would acquire a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic for $167 million as the drug developer looks to boost capacity to produce its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Novavax, one of the handful of companies aiming to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, said on Monday that it enrolled its first participant in an early stage study testing the vaccine candidate in humans.

The U.S. company, which does not have any drug on the market, said it would buy Praha Vaccines, a unit of India’s Cyrus Poonawalla Group, which also owns Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd.

The facility is expected to provide an annual capacity of over 1 billion doses of antigen starting in 2021 for Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373.

As part of the deal, about 150 employees experienced in vaccine manufacturing and support have joined Novavax, the company said.

Novavax said on Tuesday it expects preliminary data on safety and indicators of an immune response from its human trial of the vaccine in July.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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