Novavax jab shows promising clinical trials, UK has 60m doses on order

A new Covid-19 vaccine has shown itself to be 89.3% effective against the China virus and works against the new, deadlier variants of the coronavirus, it was revealed on Thursday.

The United Kingdom has 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine on order after it impressed in UK clinical trials. If approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the jab will be manufactured in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

In a government press release, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Having taken part in Novavax’s vaccine trial myself, I am particularly thrilled to see such positive results. I want to thank the thousands of trial volunteers, without whom these results would not have been possible.

“It will now be for the regulator to do its crucial work in assessing the efficacy and safety of this vaccine, but if approved it will be a further boost to our vaccination programme.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m proud the UK is at the forefront of another medical breakthrough and I want to thank the brilliant scientists and researchers, as well as the tens of thousands of selfless volunteers who took park in clinical trials.”

Novavax President and CEO, Stanley Erck, said: “This 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.”

The results of the vaccine’s clinical trials are encouraging. Not only is it nearly 90% effective in combatting coronavirus, but 27% of participants in the trials were over 65.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed at Oxford University, has been dismissed by Germany’s Koch institute, helping to fan the flames of the ongoing dispute between the pharma giant and the EU, because clinical trials included few people over the age of 60 – the European Medicines Agency will reveal the results of its approval procedure on Friday afternoon.

The same accusation cannot be levelled at the Novavax jab, which has also benefitted from undergoing trials later, after the emergence of more dangerous coronavirus strains first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Only in the case of the South African strain was a noticeable drop in protection detected, falling to 60%. This has been attributed to the high incidence of HIV in South Africa, a virus that attacks the immune system, nullifying vaccines injected to defend patients against other viruses.

It is expected that the vaccine will be ready for distribution in the second half of 2022.