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Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine in the Run for EUA Approval

— July 8, 2022

No matter the situation, the health leaders and advisory teams explore new options to discover one that ensures more robust and durable immunity, doing away with the need for the frequency of booster shots.

The overall pace of COVID-19 spread in the United States has slowed, with more incidences observed in Western areas than in its traditional hotbeds of activity. For example, California recorded a massive surge in new infections, the only sight of respite being slightly less number of hospitalizations and a low and stable fatality rate. Under the influence of the Delta virus, the state clocked over 2k cases of corona positivity in ICUs. However, the latest wave has resulted in some 300 such cases. The experts believe that better diagnosis, advanced treatments, and vaccination drive can prevent severe illnesses from viral infection. 

However, the virus today is not necessarily the virus tomorrow. The virus can change and cause new problems. Hence, there is a need to have a ready response system. In this effort, The US Food and Drug Administration advisory board continues to discuss the emergency use of new vaccines and other treatment options that offer promising outcomes. A case in point is the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Novavax, a biotechnology firm from Maryland. The advisory board gives the nod to the vaccine for emergency use authorization (EUA) for people in the age group of 18 and more. While it has obtained a recommendation, the actual authorization will be effective once the agency has done the investigation of its development and manufacturing process. 

The uniqueness of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

It is a different type of vaccine than we have in the United States. We have two types of vaccines – the adenovirus vector vaccine by Johnson & Johnson and RNA/ mRNA vaccines. These vaccines inject the genetic recipe into the body cells, and those cells, in turn, produce the protein so that our immunity can fight the disease. The other vaccine contains an adenovirus vector. Scientists have changed this virus so that it can’t make you sick. It is a good virus that helps us make more protein to fight the infection.

However, the Novavax vaccine leverages the older vaccine development techniques, where the injection introduces the protein and not the genetic recipe. So, the main difference is that this vaccine uses proteins made outside the body and injects them into the system to aid immunity. These proteins are put together in a special way to create nanoparticles, which further help your body make more proteins. This vaccine also contains immune stimulants like adjuvant. Adjuvants can trigger better action from your immunity. 

Other vaccines that use the same model as Novavax include diphtheria toxoid vaccines, tetanus toxoid vaccines, the hepatitis B virus, and others. These are not COVID-related, though.

Novavax vaccine side effects

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These vaccine types usually don’t cause any risk apart from inflammation (redness or soreness) at the injection site. In its clinical trial of nearly 40,000 people, 6 cases of myocarditis and one in the placebo group occurred. And mainly, a tiny fraction of young men reported these issues. mRNA vaccines didn’t reveal such side effects in clinical tests, but these cases appeared only after administering millions of injections. Hence, such results of Novavax during clinical trials made FDA advisors warn against it if this gets the EUA nod.

Vaccine hesitancy among the Americans

Novavax vaccine’s efficacy in the clinical trial stood at 90% overall and 80% in people older than 65. But the delay in its approval creates an uncertain atmosphere around it. About 80% of Americans have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and two-thirds have completed both rounds. Nearly 50% of the eligible candidates have taken their booster shots. But vaccine trend seems to have hit a plateau in the US. On digging into a recent survey by MyBioSource, you will realize that places like Louisiana, South Dakota, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, and others either displayed a higher number of people opposing the public policies around COVID or remained equally divided over the same. The same poll also suggests growing resentment toward the safety steps, with Louisiana and Montana seeing nearly 15% and 31% rise, respectively.

It is unclear what change this new vaccine can bring about, but the makers promote it as a traditional protein-style vaccine. Experts opine that there can be a marginal improvement in the outlook, and one cannot expect colossal demand to surge from this. 

No matter the situation, the health leaders and advisory teams explore new options to discover one that ensures more robust and durable immunity, doing away with the need for the frequency of booster shots. The vaccine should be easy to apply and store. Also, it should be able to offer protection against all types of mutating COVID viruses. More precisely, it should have a ubiquitous impact with few risks. In terms of these, Novavax can be a solution, mainly in countries with low to medium economies, if not the US, because those places lack the cold storage capacity required for most mRNA vaccines. 

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