The US company Novavax has said its coronavirus vaccine is 89.3 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 and nearly as effective in protecting against the faster-spreading variant first discovered in Kent, according to a preliminary analysis.
Data from the UK’s Phase 3 trial for the jab showed the new variant was detected in more than half of the Covid-19 cases recorded, with the vaccine candidate shown to be 95.6 per cent effective against the original strain and 85.6 per cent effective against the variant.
The study involved more than 15,000 participants aged 18 to 84, with 27 per cent aged over 65.
The UK has ordered 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, but it will need to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency before use in the country’s mass vaccination programme.
“NVX-CoV2373 is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against Covid-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly-emerging UK and South Africa variants,” Stanley Erck, the biotechnology firm's president and chief executive, said in a statement.
On Thursday night, Boris Johnson described the preliminary results as “good news” and thanked those who took part in the trial.
“Our medicines regulator will now assess the vaccine, which will be made in Teesside. If approved, we have 60m doses on order,” Mr Johnson wrote on Twitter.
Clive Dix, chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said: “These are spectacular results, and we are very pleased to have helped Novavax with the development of this vaccine. The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging.
“This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus.”
The Novavax jab also appeared to be 60 per cent effective among HIV-negative volunteers in a trial in South Africa, where genetic testing showed as many as 90 per cent of cases were related to the faster-spreading variant first discovered in the country.
“The 60 per cent reduced risk against Covid-19 illness in vaccinated individuals in South Africans underscores the value of this vaccine to prevent illness from the highly worrisome variant currently circulating in South Africa, and which is spreading globally,” Professor Shabir Maddi, lead investigator of the Novavax vaccine trial in South Africa, said.
Novavax added that it started making new versions of its vaccine to target the emerging variants in early January and expects to select ideal candidates for a booster jab in the coming days.
The company said it plans to initiate clinical testing of these new vaccines in the second quarter of this year.
Additional reporting by agencies
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