Novavax COVID-19 vaccine to offer different type of vaccine option for Americans
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It was one of the first to get federal funding as part of Operation Warp Speed. Now, two years later, Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be approved for the general public, bringing with it a new type of vaccine choice for Americans.
Nebraska Medicine has been part of clinical trials for the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine for a few years now. Researchers said many who were enrolling in trials were looking for an option outside of mRNA vaccines, like the ones developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
If approved, Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine would be the fourth option to be authorized for U.S. citizens and the first protein vaccine.
“It’s more of a traditional vaccine, so it actually just uses protein, so pieces of what we want to have the immune system respond to in this case spike protein,” said Dr. Rick Starlin, UNMC.
Dr. Starlin is one of the researchers involved in those clinical trials. UNMC has enrolled hundreds of people as part of a larger network of clinical testing that spans two countries. He said because of that early start date, much of their enrollment came from those who can’t get mRNA vaccines that were slated for people like first responders and healthcare workers.
“A lot of enrollment early on and the trials gone through and gone pretty well I think,” Dr. Starlin said.
Doctors are also pointing to the appeal of those who might be wary of mRNA vaccine technology. Novavax’s protein make-up is different and mirrored in shots for things like HPV and Hepatitis.
“Hopefully this will offer a good, effective vaccine with what looks like a good safety profile that people can be more comfortable with and pursue,” Dr. Starlin said.
As for effectiveness, after a two-shot series research shows it’s 90% against mild disease and 100% when it comes to preventing severe illness and death, but that does not take into account any variants past Alpha.
“Just like the mRNA vaccines is that they were studied, that we had a different variant a lot of the time when the trial was going on,” Dr. Starlin said. “We were looking at the Alpha Variant and obviously we’ve moved on through several different variants since that time”
The FDA committee of independent vaccine experts recommended authorization. It’s expected that it will be cleared for use by the general public in the coming days by the FDA, but the CDC would still need to also approve it before those shots can go into arms.