US Biotech firm Novavax has announced a breakthrough in their late-stage trials of a covid-19 vaccine, immediately receiving approval in the United Kingdom.
The UK coronavirus vaccine study shows an 89% effective rate based on early findings. This vaccine shows a high effective rate, though less potent with variant strains. Trial participants were aged between 18 to 84, with 27% of this number aged over 65. However, despite its dismal show against the South African mutation (B.1.351), this doesn’t underscore its performance against the SARS-CoV-2 variants and the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant. Clive Dix, the Chair of the UK Vaccine task force described the news as an “incredible achievement” that will help in the protection of people in the UK and across the globe.
In the announcement, Novavax disclosed that NVX-CoV2373, its protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, delivered an impressive 89.3% efficacy. The UK study was done in conjunction with the Government Vaccine Taskforce alongside Phase 2b study trials in South Africa. Cumulatively, phases 1,2, and 3 trials involved over 20,000 participants.
Novavax adds to the list of Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Moderna, whose vaccines have been greenlighted in the UK. The government has moved quickly to purchase 60 million doses of the two-dose vaccine. Thus far over 7.5 million people across the United Kingdom have received their first dose of vaccinations, raising expectations of an early end to the pandemic.
UK Covid-19 variant
The UK variant is 70% more infectious and deadly than the original strain of Covid-19 that happened pre-pandemic. A recent rise in Covid-19 infections across the UK are attributed to the new strain of coronavirus witnessed after the pandemic. Despite the concerns over mass rollout, the company is confident of its 96% effectiveness against the old virus and 86% effectiveness on the new variant.
South Africa variant
The South African variant has caused alarm among the scientific community as it has a different mutant strain that is more aggressive than the British variant. This study included some volunteers with HIV. Among them were HIV-negative volunteers who showed a 60% effectiveness. If we include the immune-compromised volunteers, overall the level of efficacy was 49%. Prompted by the findings, the company intends to work on a new vaccine solely targeting the South African variant.
As genetic testing carries on, over 90% of COVID-19 illnesses recorded in South Africa are attributed to the new variant. The WHO has reported that 22 countries across the continent are seeing a surge in new cases attributed to the 501Y.V2 South African variant.
The findings by Novavax should result in its authorization for use in Britain. Other countries such as the United States are opting for further studies involving a higher number of volunteers before arriving at any decision.
How does the Novavax vaccine work?
Novavax vaccine combines an engineered protein from the virus that results in covid-19 from a plant-based ingredient that generates a stronger immune response. If the body catches covid-19 in the future, it is primed to fight it off.
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