Vaccine maker Novavax said on Monday that its dose was highly effective against COVID-19, as well as being protected from variants in a large late-stage study in the United States and Mexico.
The company said the vaccine was 90 percent effective overall, and preliminary data showed it was safe.
While the demand for COVID-19 shots in the United States has fallen dramatically, the need for more vaccines around the world is still essential. The Novavax vaccine, which is easy to store and transport, is expected to play an important role in boosting vaccine supplies in the developing world.
However, that help is still months away. The company says it plans to obtain permission for the shots in the United States, Europe and elsewhere by the end of September and will be able to produce up to 100 million doses per month by then.
“Many of our first doses will go to low- and middle-income countries, and that was the goal at first,” Novavax CEO Stanley Erk told The Associated Press.
More than 64 percent of people in Canada and More than half of the population of the United StatesYou have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But less than one percent of people in the developing world have gotten a single shot, according to Our World In Data, an Oxford University-based tracking group.
The Novavax study included nearly 30,000 people aged 18 and over in the United States and Mexico. Two-thirds of them received two doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart, and the rest received dummy doses.
There were 77 cases of COVID-19 – 14 in the group that got the vaccine and the rest in volunteers who received a dummy shot. None of the vaccine group had moderate or severe disease, compared to 14 in the placebo group.
The vaccine was similarly effective against several variants including the type first discovered in the UK and prevalent in the US, and in high-risk groups including the elderly and people with other health problems.
Mostly mild side effects
Side effects were mostly mild – tenderness and soreness at the injection site. Erk said there were no reports of unusual blood clots or heart problems.
Novavax published the results in a press release and plans to publish in a medical journal, where they will be examined by independent experts. The Maryland-based company previously released results from smaller studies in Britain and South Africa.
COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the coronavirus, especially the spiky protein that coats it, and to prepare to fight the virus. The Novavax vaccine is made from laboratory versions of this protein. This differs from some of the other vaccines widely used now, which include the body’s genetic instructions to make its own spike protein.
Novavax vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators, which facilitates its distribution.
Novavax previously announced manufacturing delays due to supply shortages. The company now expects to reach production of 100 million doses per month by the end of September and 150 million doses per month by December.
The company has committed to providing the United States with 110 million doses over the next year and a total of 1.1 billion doses to developing countries.
In May, the Gavi Vaccine Alliance announced that it had signed an agreement to purchase 350 million doses of Novavax vaccine, with deliveries expected to begin in the third quarter. COVAX, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries, is facing severe vaccine shortages after its largest supplier in India halted exports until the end of the year,
Novavax has been developing vaccines for more than three decades, but has yet to put any on the market. The company’s coronavirus vaccine work is partially funded by the US government.