Annual Meeting Synopsis
Ok folks, I've read various posts regarding my anticipated comments from the annual shareholders' meeting held this morning. I appreciate the kind and thoughtful comments and just ignore the fringe elements and those who lack critical thinking skills. Here is my observations and thoughts along with bits of what was said as well as any reads on non-verbal aspects among people in the know.
We got to the meeting just as the business parts were getting underway. I would say that in addition to board members I recognized (Gail Boudreaux (sp?), Modi, Greg Glenn, Cunningham, Young and others) there were only 20-25 people in attendance. After the various votes and business aspects were dealt with, Mr. Erck, who I hold in high regard BTW, took the podium to review the past year and update everyone on where things stand. He said something to the effect of Novavax being "alive and well ..." and something about more variations (which I later took to mean a more varied phase 2 elderly trial and other programs under way. He said there would be more info about Zika relatively soon. Said NVAX's Ebola vaccine was the best one currently available and that the addition of the Matrix M adjuvant should make a big difference (I'm reading from my notes).
He said the Maternal PIII is being administered in 11 countries and was a multi-season trial with well defined epidemiology and should ameliorate any attack rate issues.
The 'safety monitoring board' has not reported any problems with safety in the maternal. There seemed to be some implication that was suggestive of the fact that immunogenicity data indicates the vaccine works (I was writing very fast and this last aspect is a bit of an interpolation). There was some discussion of the futility analysis as well and the sense was that the maternal was in good shape. That's my sense of how things were described. I wrote this: that protection was > 50% for 2 years in a row. Not sure what the details of that were (I was a bit sleep deprived --- sorry).
The most interesting things were said about the PII elderly and the PIII that flopped. This newer PII uses more combinations of dosing and adjuvants. He said at the beginning that Novavax was pretty quiet while they sorted out and analyzed what happened, but that in about 45 days, PII results will be out along with more information about why the PIII went wrong. He also said the most interesting thing ... something to the effect that in their analysis, the scientists ultimately told him something a president doesn't generally like to hear ... that "we have an interesting problem". There was a definite grin or smile when he said that, but then said that we'll know alot more in 45 days.
Greg Glenn, who was sitting next to me, then took the mike to further explain and alluded to, at least conceptually, the notion of herd immunity and variations in attack rate in the year of the PIII study. Stan discussed afterwards how the attack rate in the year prior was higher. Thus, there were various connections and exposures to RSV that may have given the placebo group some protection. I have since wondered if patient participants in prior years may have also participated in PIII and prior exposure either naturally or via RSV vaccination skewed results? I still wonder and may inquire further, but when he said "we have an interesting problem" that will be clarified, I got the feeling that they have discovered something about the vaccine or trial that was a 'good' element that caused 'bad' results. That's the sense I got.
I asked Stan about morale and he said it was low in the fall and had to lay off about 170 people that was not a pleasant thing to do, but that morale is much stronger now. Buck Phillips came up to me after the meeting ended and Put a wrist band on my wrist that says "novastrong".
He said there was great data so far for influenza, they were excited about the 2nd half of this year and haven't changed their views on the RSV elderly --- i.e., that the vaccine works. The futility analysis (I believe for maternal PII) indicates the vaccine is still 'passing' their constraints.
All in all, while the general atmosphere was more subdued than in years past, there was some level of optimism. Erck expressed some "impatience" with having to slog through the trials and I came away feeling optimistic, yet quite puzzled about the "interesting problem" --- something that seemed good about the platform, yet caused a problem. That's my take on that comment.
The next 45 days are going to be nerve wracking for me. There's a lot on the line and I will have to figure out how to protect against downside risk yet maintain upside potential. I'm glad I went, just wish I was a fly on the boardroom wall