More good news on the COVID vaccine front: A fourth company now has a strong candidate for availability in the US. Per the New York Times, the Novavax vaccine has shown an overall efficacy of 90.4% during a phase 3 trial in the US and Mexico, with 100% efficacy at keeping moderate or severe disease at bay. Novavax also said the vaccine's efficacy was at 91% for high-risk populations, such as those with comorbidities or those over 65. Plus, the US and Mexico results are on par with those shown in a phase 3 trial conducted in the UK. "Different continent, different population, different viruses floating around, and yet, we still see really good efficacy," Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of R&D for Novavax, tells CNN. "This is what you want to have." On Friday, Novavax also announced a new study that showed immune response and protection from its vaccine against the highly contagious beta variant first identified in South Africa, reports Reuters.
Novavax's vaccine uses recombinant nanoparticle technology and the company's Matrix-M adjuvant to kick-start the body's immune response, as opposed to the mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna, or J&J's nonreplicating viral vector vaccine, which uses a weakened common-cold virus as a vector. Novavax had been one of the companies awarded an Operation Warp Speed contract by the Trump administration, and initial trials showed promise, but manufacturing issues pushed back the vaccine's late-stage trials—giving Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson a leg up on pulling ahead to receive emergency use authorization in the US. In fact, with plenty of other vaccines now available here, Novavax may apply for authorization in other countries first. Where the Novovax vaccine could come in especially handy: as boosters, which experts predict will be needed as variants continue to circulate and immunity conferred by initial shots begins to fade. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)