Better late than never.
Novavax announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 90.4 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 cases and 100 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe illness in Phase 3 trials, putting it on the same playing field how highly effective mRNA shots provide.
The studies, which enrolled 29,960 people in the US and Mexico, were conducted as more communicable variants spread and the alpha variant, first discovered in the UK, became dominant in the US
Such results show that the vaccine could be highly effective – about 93 percent – against new variants, the company said in a press release. It added that its recombinant nanoparticle protein-based vaccine – which does not need to be stored at extremely low temperatures – was 100 percent effective against the earlier virus variants.
The catch: the vaccine won’t hit the market anytime soon. The US company said it won’t submit to regulators until the third quarter of the year – by which time the vast majority of Europeans, Britons and Americans should already be vaccinated.
Novavax knows it’s behind this.
“Last year we had to build a company and a vaccine,” Novavax’s director of research and development Gregory Glenn told reporters, explaining that technology transfers and production scaling take a “long time”.
But Glenn backed off when asked if the company had delayed regulatory approval because it faced manufacturing issues, insisting that he “didn’t see anything abnormal other than the timeframe by which we’d both judge.” and that we are working towards “. . ”
“It’s just a review of … every little breath we take,” he said.
In the longer term, however, Novavax’s future may not lie so much with affluent countries as with the global south.
The company’s high rate of effectiveness and strong potential against variants solidify its place in the next generation of vaccines. And his big deals to supply COVAX – the World Health Organization mechanism; Gavi, the vaccination alliance; and CEPI to provide global access to coronavirus vaccines – which means it could overtake Oxford / AstraZeneca as a more effective “folk vaccine”.
COVAX should receive approximately 1.1 billion doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and another 1.1 billion doses of the Novavax vaccine. But poorer countries have often rolled back on the adoption of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines, which are viewed as “used” donations from rich countries. South Sudan sent thousands Cans returned due to safety concerns while others, like Malawi, incinerated them due to deterioration.
At the same time, global vaccine inequality has become an increasingly controversial issue. The G7 countries missed their promise over the weekend to donate 1 billion doses of their vaccines next year – and at the same time secure even more doses for possible boosters, such as the EU’s 1.8 billion dose deal with BioNTech / Pfizer .
“We believe our vaccine could do a lot of good … especially through this COVAX mechanism that would allow us to distribute our vaccine to the poorest parts of the world,” said Glenn. “We’re currently working harder seven days a week to make this happen.”
Still, Novavax does not want to write off its potential in the affluent world.
“You will see immunity wear off and you will need a boost,” said Glenn, introducing Novavax’s older, proven technology as another option for the newer mRNA jabs that some may hesitate. “Our vaccine offers a really nice alternative in the sense that it is a recombinant adjuvant vaccine. These are licensed; there is a lot of experience with them for safety reasons.”
This story has been updated.
This article is part of POLITICSPremium Policy Service: Pro Health Care. Whether drug prices, EMA, vaccines, pharmaceuticals and more – our specialist journalists keep you up to date on health policy issues. E-mail [email protected] for a free trial.