The Next Vaccine
There is a new COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon: Novavax. The company has published its efficacy data in the UK and is anticipated to submit data here within a few weeks. Based on the time between when other companies’ published their efficacy data and when the Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization, this new vaccine could be available to Americans by May. Here are the top six things to know:
- In a United Kingdom trial of 15,000 participants, the two-dose Novavax vaccine was 89.7% effective overall and 100% effective against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
- The study differentiated between participants who were exposed to the unvaried or “wild type” of COVID, where it was 96.4% effective. It was 86.3% against the UK variant, and it was 48.6%. effective against the South African variant.
- While the vaccine is clearly less effective against the South African variant, no severe cases of COVID-19 were reported, even among those with that type of virus. This is typical of the results for the other vaccines’ performance against variants, and that’s great news.
- Recipients get two doses a month apart.
- The technology used to make the Novavax vaccine is different than the others that have been given authorization so far. It uses purified spike protein and an adjuvant, which is a substance designed to enhance the immune response. The technology is not new. It has actually been used in a vaccine that prevent leukemia in cats!
- This vaccine is easy to store. It requires only basic refrigeration.
If it is approved, we will have four vaccines available. While each is a little different, what’s most important is that they all work exceptionally well to protect against the current predominant strain and prevent severe illness regardless of which strain you encounter. We encourage everyone to get the vaccine that is available as soon as they are eligible.
Marie George, MD, FIDSA, is Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s infectious disease specialist.