Novavax, a little-known company supported by the United States federal government's Operation Warp Speed, announced that its COVID-19 vaccine proffered robust protection against the novel coronavirus. However, it also discovered that its vaccine is less effective against the fast becoming prevalent variant first detected in South Africa.
Novavax Vaccine Works, But Not on South African Variant
According to Novavax, its coronavirus vaccine is 89 percent effective at alleviating illness based on an interim analysis of a United Kingdom study.
In a separate trial, the vaccine was shown to be far less effective against the new variant.
In its 15,000-volunteer trial in the United Kingdom, the vaccine reportedly alleviated nine out of 10 cases, including against a new strain of COVID-19 circulating there, reported Stat.
According to the data, it is suggested that individuals who previously had infections of the virus might not be immune to the South African variant, named 501Y.V2 or B.1.351, which is now making its rounds in at least 30 nations.
The results arrived the same day that health officials reported the first two United States cases of COVID-19 caused by the South African variant, reported Science News.
It occurred in two people in separate parts of South Carolina with no association with each other. Neither had recently traveled, so it is not clear where they got the virus.
The announcement of Novavax arrives amid concerns regarding whether a variety of vaccines being disseminated around the world will be adequately potent to protect against worrisome new variants. The world is in dire need of new types of shots to bolster scarce supplies.
The study of 15,000 individuals in Britain is still ongoing, reported AP.
The news is another setback in the global race to end a pandemic that has recorded over 2.1 million fatalities.
This could be problematic for the U.S., which hours previously reported its first known infectious variant cases in two unrelated people in South Carolina.
In a 4,400-volunteer South African study, the vaccine was shown to be 49 percent effective. In 94 percent of the study population that did not have HIV, the effectiveness was recorded at 60 percent.
An interim analysis of the Britain study found 62 participants to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Only six of them in the group were administered the vaccine, and the rest received dummy shots.
The cases occurred when the U.K. was in the middle of a spike in COVID-19 caused by the more contagious variant.
The first U.S. cases arrived days after Moderna and Pfizer stated that their vaccines are less effective against the same variant as well.
Novavax has been running trials in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and the United States. In a small South African trial, the efficacy rate fell to merely under 50 percent.
In the Britain trial, Novavax observed 62 cases of symptomatic COVID-19 cases, with 56 in the placebo group and six administered the vaccine. One patient on placebo had severe COVID-19 compared with none in the vaccine group.
Novavax Inc. presented the interim data from the United Kingdom and South Africa trials in a news release on January 28.