Vaccine maker Novavax said on Monday its shot was more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19 and also protected against variants in a large, late-stage study in the US and Mexico.
The jab "demonstrated 100% protection against moderate and severe disease, 90.4% efficacy overall," the company said in a statement, adding "the study enrolled 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the U.S. and Mexico to evaluate efficacy, safety and immunogenicity."
The Novavax vaccine, which is easy to store and transport, is expected to play an important role in boosting vaccine supplies in the developing world. Novavax vaccine proved 100 percent protection against moderate and severe diseases in PREVENT-19 phase 3 trials
“Many of our first doses will go to … low- and middle-income countries, and that was the goal to begin with,” Novavax Chief Executive Stanley Erck told The Associated Press.
Novavax''s study involved nearly 30,000 people ages 18 and up in the US and Mexico. Two-thirds received two doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart, and the rest got dummy shots.
There were 77 cases of COVID-19 — 14 in the group that got the vaccine and the rest were in volunteers who received dummy shots. None in the vaccine group had moderate or severe disease, compared to 14 in the placebo group.
The vaccine was similarly effective against several variants including the one first detected in the U.K. that's dominant in the US, and in high-risk populations including the elderly and people with other health problems.
Side effects were mostly mild — tenderness and pain at the injection site. There were no reports of unusual blood clots or heart problems, Erck said.
Novavax reported the results in a press release and plans to publish in a medical journal, where it will be vetted by independent experts. The Maryland-based company previously released findings from smaller studies in Britain and South Africa.
COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the coronavirus, especially the spike protein that coats it, and get ready to fight the virus off. The Novavax vaccine is made with lab-grown copies of that protein. That's different from some of the other vaccines now widely used, which include genetic instructions for the body to make its own spike protein.
The Novavax vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators, making it easier to distribute.
Novavax previously announced manufacturing delays due to supply shortages. The company now expects to reach production of 100 million doses a month by the end of September and 150 million doses a month by December.