A late-stage study in the United States and Mexico finds that Novavax fired effectively against COVID-19 and its variants.
Vaccine manufacturer Novavax claims that its shot is highly effective against COVID-19 and that it is also protected against variants in a large final-phase study in the United States and Mexico, which has been a major boost to global vaccination efforts.
The vaccine was about 90 percent effective overall and preliminary data showed it was safe, the company said Monday.
While demand for COVID-19 shots in the U.S. has dropped dramatically, the need for more vaccines worldwide remains critical.
The Novavax vaccine, which is easy to store and transport, is expected to play an important role in increasing the supply of vaccines to developing countries.
Still, months are left. The company says it plans to seek authorization for the shootings in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere by the end of September and be able to produce up to 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, to begin with,” Novavax CEO Stanley Erck told The Associated Press. .
Although more than half of the U.S. population has had at least one dose of COVID vaccine, less than 1% of people in the developing world have had a shot, according to Our World In Data.
The Novavax study included about 30,000 people 18 years of age or older in the United States and Mexico. Two-thirds received two doses of vaccine, three weeks apart, and the rest received false shots.
There were 77 cases of COVID-14 in the group that received the vaccine and the rest in volunteers who received false shots.
No group in the vaccine group had moderate or severe disease, compared with 14 in the placebo group.
The vaccine was equally effective against several variants, including the alpha variant first detected in the UK and widespread in the US and in high-risk populations, including the elderly and people with other health problems.
The side effects were mostly mild: tenderness and pain at the injection site. There were no reports of unusual blood clots or heart problems, Erck said.
Novavax reported the results in a press release and plans to publish them in a medical journal, where they will be examined by independent experts.
The Maryland-based company previously published findings from minor studies in Britain and South Africa.
COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the coronavirus, especially the ear protein that coats it, and prepare to fight the virus.
The Novavax vaccine is made with copies of this protein grown in the laboratory.
The Novavax vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators, which facilitates distribution.
Novavax previously announced delays in manufacturing due to supply shortages.
Now the company expects to reach production of 100 million doses per month by the end of September and 150 million doses per month in December.
It has pledged to supply 110 million doses to the US over the next year and a total of 1.1 billion doses to developing countries.
In May, vaccine alliance Gavi announced it had signed an agreement to buy 350 million doses of Novavax vaccine, and deliveries are expected to begin in the third quarter.
COVAX, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries, faces a critical shortage of vaccines after its largest supplier to India suspended exports until the end of the year.
Novavax has been working on vaccine development for over 30 years, but has not introduced it to the market.
The work of the company’s coronavirus vaccine is funded in part by the United States government.