Booster Shot: Novavax vaccine shows 90% efficacy, J&J 66%

Mumbai: US drug makers Novavax and Johnson & Johnson said their Covid vaccine candidates showed encouraging phase 3 trial results, which should boost India’s inoculation programme. Both have tied up with local partners — Novavax with Serum Institute of India (SII) and J&J with Hyderabad-based Biological E.

Novavax said its NVX-CoV2373 demonstrated a 90% efficacy in phase 3 trials in the UK, taking it closer to approval by the UK health authorities. J&J’s single-dose vaccine showed an overall efficacy of 66% and 85% efficacy in preventing death (severe disease) across all age and ethnic groups.

“The potential to significantly reduce the burden of severe disease, by providing an effective and well-tolerated vaccine with just one immunisation, is a critical component of the global public health response,” said Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at J&J.

Separate Trial in US

Novavax enrolled more than 15,000 participants aged 18-84 years, of whom 27% were over 65. The vaccine was shown to work against the more infectious UK strain. However, its efficacy against the group detected with the South Africa strain was 60%. Novavax is running a separate trial in the US, where it has recruited 16,000 participants and is expected to enrol another 14,000 by February. The company has already submitted data for approval to the UK authorities.

“The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging,” said Clive Dix, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, in a statement about the Novavax candidate. “This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus.”

J&J is expected to submit its vaccine for approval to the US authorities next week. It said its vaccine had a higher efficacy among US participants. Against the South Africa variant, its efficacy was 57%.

Novavax has received $15 million from the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for developing the vaccine for the WHO’s COVAX facility.

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