Everything you need to know about how the Novavax vaccine works

New drug to protect against Covid-19 expected to be available later this year

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in front of displayed Novavax logo in this illustration taken, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
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Novavax has introduced a new vaccine to the market that is nearly 90 per cent effective against the original coronavirus strain and 86 per cent against the new UK variant.

Efficacy drops to 60 per cent for the South African strain of the virus.

The UK has ordered 60 million doses of vaccine, which will be produced on Teesside in north-east England.

Medical regulator the MHRA is reviewing the research data so approval could take some time.

Across the UK, 15,000 people volunteered to take part in trials for the new vaccine.

Prof Paul Heath, who was chief index investigator of the UK Novavax vaccine trial from St George's University Hospital's NHS Foundation Trust, said he was delighted with the results, which show high efficacy against Covid-19, particularly in the context of new variants.

“I think it is yet another great step forward for the UK, and gives us another vaccine that will be able to be successfully rolled out both in the UK and of course, ultimately, globally,” he said.

When asked about treating the South African variant, Prof Heath said he was confident that scientists would be able to keep up with all mutations of the virus and create future vaccines at pace.

John Kazine, commercial officer for Novavax said: “We're tremendously excited about the results from this trial.”

How the Novavax vaccine works

The Novavax vaccine trains the immune system to make antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein.

The vaccine is made up of spike protein from the virus, which is then purified and joined to an adjuvant that enhances the immune response.

‘The technology here is fairly traditional,” said Prof Heath.

The vaccine is given as two doses.

The advantages of the Novavax vaccine

The Novavax vaccine is stable for up to three months and can be stored in a normal fridge unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna drugs that need ultra-low temperatures for storage.

It is hoped the Novavax vaccine will be available to use in the second half of this year.

What other vaccines are available?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is currently available in Britain and is 95 per cent efficient at protecting against the virus.

It is manufactured in the UK and Brussels.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford shot is produced in the UK and Europe and clinical trials show it is 90 per cent effective.

AstraZeneca expects to have up to 40 million doses ready by the end of March 2021.

Moderna reports that its vaccine is 95.4 per cent effective. It has been approved for use in the UK, with delivery expected in the spring.