Vaccine maker Novavax says its shot is highly effective against COVID-19 and also protects against variants
The company said the vaccine was about 90% effective overall and preliminary data showed it was safe.
However, that help is still months away. The company says it plans to seek authorization for the shots in the US, Europe and elsewhere by the end of September and is capable of producing 100 million doses a month by then.
“Many of our first doses … will go to low- and middle-income countries, and that was the goal,” Novavax chief executive Stanley Erk told the Associated Press.
According to Our World in Data, while more than half of the US population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, less than 1 percent of people in developing countries have received a shot.
Novavax’s study involved nearly 30,000 people aged 18 and older in the US and Mexico. Two-thirds received two doses of the vaccine, spaced three weeks apart, and the rest received dummy shots.
There were 77 cases of COVID-19 – 14 in the group that received the vaccine and the rest in the volunteers who received the dummy shots. None in the vaccine group had moderate or severe disease, compared with 14 in the placebo group.
The vaccine was equally effective against several types, with the first detected in the UK being dominant in the US, and in high-risk populations, including the elderly and those with other health problems.
Side effects were mostly mild – tenderness and pain at the injection site. Erk said there were no reports of abnormal blood clots or heart problems.
Novavax reported the results in a press release and plans to publish in a medical journal, where it will be examined by independent experts. The Maryland-based company previously released findings from smaller studies in the UK and South Africa.
COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the coronavirus, specifically the spike protein that coats it, and get ready to fight the virus. The Novavax vaccine is made from lab-grown copies of that protein. This is different from some of the other vaccines now widely used, which contain genetic instructions for the body to make its own spike protein.
Novavax vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator, which makes it easy to distribute.
Novavax had earlier announced delays in manufacturing due to lack of supplies. The company now expects to reach production of 100 million doses per month by the end of September and 150 million doses per month by December.
The company is committed to supplying 110 million doses to the US next year and a total of 1.1 billion doses to developing countries.
In May, vaccine alliance Gavi announced that it had signed an agreement to buy 350 million doses of Novavax’s vaccine, with deliveries expected to begin in the third quarter. COVAX, a global initiative to make vaccines available to countries, is facing a severe vaccine shortage after its largest supplier in India suspended exports until the end of the year.
Novavax has been working on developing vaccines for more than three decades, but hasn’t brought one to market. The company’s coronavirus vaccine work is partly funded by the US government.
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AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng contributed to this report.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.