Novavax COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by summer

World Today

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by summer

While COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out across the world, demand for the drugs continue to far exceed supply. 

But new potential vaccines are in the pipeline, including one made by Novavax, a U.S. biotech company. 

Early trial results have been quite promising. 

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from Colorado where a portion of the trial is now underway.

It’s checkup time for Robby and Pamela Mendoza. The Colorado couple arrives at a UCHealth trailer where they’ll be spending some time over the next few years. They’re enrolled in the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trial. Having received both doses, they’re here to have their blood drawn and report any symptoms of the disease.
“It’s definitely worth the time coming over here, spending a morning or afternoon being part of this trial, making sure we can be part of the solution for this,” Robby Mendoza said.
30,000 volunteers in the U.S. and Mexico, including 285 Coloradans, have raised their arms for the trial. Unlike other trials where it’s half and half, two-thirds of participants will get the vaccine, just one-third a placebo.
“It provides a bigger incentive for people to participate,” said Dr. Thomas Campbell, a UCHealth physician who’s running the Colorado trial, adding that those inducements are important these days.
“People have options to get a vaccine, but I think we still need vaccine options available, more than what we have,” said Pamela Mendoza.
Unlike the current Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which rely on the newer mRNA technology, Novavax, a U.S. biotech company, focuses on the more established method of using tiny bits of coronavirus proteins to provoke an immune response in the body.
Early results have been good. A U.K. trial showed the vaccine was 89 percent effective. It was 49 percent effective in a study in South Africa, where one virus variant is now circulating.
“Now not quite as effective as it is agains the U.K. variant and it may therefore mean modifying the spike protein… will now be considered,” said Paul Heath, the U.K. Novavax trial chief investigator. 
“It is a concern, I don’t lose sleep about it,” Campbell said. He believes this vaccine, which requires normal refrigeration and can be massively scaled up, could represent a big step forward.
“It may be less effective for less severe illness but still very effective for the more extreme outcomes,” he said.
While the Mendozas suspect they got the vaccine, trial administrators may also give placebo recipients the drug in part to keep them in the study. The Mendozas have no plans to drop out.
“It’s worth it at this point to make sure we can get valid data,” Robby Mendoza said. He works in spacecraft operations at a Colorado research institute and collects data for a living.
“Now I get to be the data and provide that back to others to use and make good decisions so it’s interesting being on the other side for once,” he said.
That means keeping a digital diary and checking in at the trailer every three to six months. It’s the couple’s way of fighting the pandemic.
“This’ll hopefully get things back to a new normal world,” Robby Mendoza said. If all goes well, the Novavax vaccine could be ready to be administered by summer.