Phase Three data from the UK trial shows that Novavax still works powerfully against the UK mutation, with a less intense impact on the South African mutation at 60%
With the R currently at 0.98 in the UK, the emergence of a fourth viable vaccine is welcome news to healthcare experts. The Novavax vaccine, also known as NVX-CoV2373, is the first to go up against the various mutations that are creating concern for epidemiologists globally.
Does it work against the South African mutation?
It seems that when the Novavax vaccine is facing the original form of COVID-19, a double-dose appears to be 89.3% efficient. When it comes up against the highly infectious Kent-born mutation, it is 85.6% efficient – which is a huge relief to UK scientists, who are currently investigating how mutations can impact the purpose of a vaccine.
Stanley C Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax, explained: “NVX-CoV2373 is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against COVID-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly emerging UK and South Africa variants.”
Unfortunately, when facing the similarly infectious South African mutation, the Novavax vaccine comes up with an efficiency of 60%.
This percentage is still good enough to qualify the vaccine for viable use against all forms of COVID, but it brings to light some anxiety in the world of drugmakers and policymakers alike.
Will all manufacturers have to create a booster shot? With companies like AstraZeneca already facing trouble in scaling their operations to fluidly produce millions of doses, how could the necessity of a booster dose (yet to go through development and trials) impact the timeline of global recovery?
‘It protects against the variant dominating in South Africa’
Professor Shabir Maddi, Executive Director of the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA) at Wits, and principal investigator in the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trial in South Africa, said: “The 60% reduced risk against COVID-19 illness in vaccinated individuals in South Africans underscores the value of this vaccine to prevent illness from the highly worrisome variant currently circulating in South Africa, and which is spreading globally.
“This is the first COVID-19 vaccine for which we now have objective evidence that it protects against the variant dominating in South Africa.”
The UK is at the front of the line
The UK Government has purchased 60 million doses, with the possibility to buy even more. If all existing contracts with vaccine-makers pan out, then the UK will have a vaccine availability of 302% – 202% more than the country can even use.
In addition, this vaccine will be partly manufactured by the UK, in Stockton-on-Tees. With a vaccine feud growing between AstraZeneca and the Commission, this new data may contextualise ongoing disagreements.
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