Novavax hopes its COVID shot wins over FDA, vaccine holdouts

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — Americans might quickly get a brand new COVID-19 vaccine possibility — pictures made with a extra tried-and-true technology than in the present day’s variations. The large question: Why ought to they care?

After lengthy delays, the Food and Drug Administration is anticipated to determine inside weeks whether or not to authorize Novavax’s vaccine. It’s late within the pandemic for a brand new alternative, with about three-quarters of U.S. adults already vaccinated.

But the company is hoping to discover a area of interest amongst a few of the unvaccinated thousands and thousands who would possibly conform to a extra conventional form of shot — a protein vaccine — and likewise to turn out to be a best choice for boosters, no matter which kind folks bought first. Only about half of vaccinated adults have gotten a booster.

The Novavax vaccine already is utilized in elements of Europe and a number of different nations, however FDA clearance is a key hurdle. And well being consultants are intently watching to see if a brand new software gives benefits, both in attractive vaccine holdouts or perhaps even providing considerably broader immunity.

“What I’ve seen of the Novavax data so far is it’s a really impressive protein vaccine,” mentioned University of Pennsylvania immunologist E. John Wherry.


The Novavax vaccine trains the physique to struggle the coronavirus by delivering copies of its outer coating, the spike protein. Those spike copies are grown in insect cells, purified and packaged into nanoparticles that to the immune system resemble a virus, mentioned Novavax analysis chief Dr. Gregory Glenn.

Then an immune-boosting ingredient, or adjuvant, that’s produced from the bark of a South American tree is added that acts as a pink flag to make sure these particles look suspicious sufficient to spark a powerful response.

“It’s basically a soap bubble. It’s made of stuff that you find in root beer,” Glenn mentioned. “When an immune cell sees that, it becomes quite activated. … We supercharge the immune response.”

Protein vaccines have been used for years to stop hepatitis B, shingles and different illnesses.

It’s a really totally different strategy than the Pfizer and Moderna pictures. Those so-called mRNA vaccines have saved numerous lives and altered the course of the pandemic however nonetheless, some individuals are uncomfortable with the brand new technology that delivers genetic directions for the physique to make its personal spike copies. A 3rd U.S. possibility, from Johnson & Johnson, isn’t as extensively used.


Manufacturing issues held up the vaccine globally, however Novavax CEO Stanley Erck mentioned these issues have been resolved and “are well behind us.” The company mentioned greater than 40 million doses had been distributed by March to nations in Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

Novavax, a small biotech company, created the vaccine in its analysis lab, however the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker and different factories produce the pictures.

Erck mentioned the Serum Institute just lately handed an FDA inspection, clearing the best way for the company to complete evaluating the vaccine.


Earlier within the pandemic, massive research within the U.S., Mexico and Britain discovered two doses of the Novavax vaccine have been secure and about 90% efficient at stopping symptomatic COVID-19. When the delta variant emerged final summer time, Novavax reported a booster dose revved up virus-fighting antibodies that might deal with that mutant.

Now an much more contagious department of the coronavirus household tree is dominant, the omicron mutant and its family. While not one of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have proved as robust in opposition to omicron, Glenn mentioned lab assessments present Novavax pictures do set off cross-protective antibodies.

Like different vaccine makers, Novavax is brewing pictures up to date to raised goal omicron. It opened a research in Australia to check how effectively an omicron-targeted booster revs up immunity in individuals who initially bought Pfizer or Moderna doses.

And in flasks filled with insect cells within the company’s Maryland-based analysis lab, scientists are designing spike proteins to match even newer omicron siblings, in case they’re wanted.


On June 7, the FDA’s scientific advisers will publicly consider proof backing the Novavax vaccine for adults — and virtually actually will debate when and the way it is perhaps used as a booster. If the FDA authorizes the vaccine, the subsequent step can be suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on learn how to use it.

European regulators are contemplating increasing Novavax pictures to youngsters primarily based on a U.S. research of these as younger as 12 throughout final summer time’s delta wave. The company plans additional assessments in youthful youngsters quickly.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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