Up to 60m doses of Novavax jab to be produced in UK, Boris Johnson says

Novavax vaccine: Everything you need to know about latest Covid jab

Including how it works, what temperature it must be stored at, and more

Sam Hancock@samhancock95
Monday 29 March 2021 21:28

Boris Johnson has signed a deal with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for up to 60 million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine to be manufactured in the UK.

Mr Johnson revealed on Monday the agreement would see the Novavax jab produced in the northeast of England.

The “fill and finish” for the vaccine will take place at GSK’s facility at Barnard Castle, he told a Downing Street press conference.

But what do we know about this latest jab? And how does it compare to others already being rolled out in the UK?

How does it work?

Novavax is a two-dose protein subunit vaccine, which means that it contains a lab-made version of the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein. This spike protein alone cannot make anyone sick.

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But to make sure that the body still generates the protective antibodies against it, Novavax has inserted an ingredient called an adjuvant, which also works to enhance the response of the immune system.

This component has been shown to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. It can also reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which allows more to be produced.

How effective is it?

Data shows the new Novavax vaccine is 89 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19. The results came from a UK clinical trial involving more than 15,000 people aged between 18-84 – of which 27 per cent were older than 65.

According to the phase three trial’s results, the jab offers 100 per cent protection against severe disease, including all hospital admission and death.

It also offers 86 per cent protection against the Kent variant and 96 per cent against the virus’ original strain.

In a separate South African arm of the trial, where most cases of Covid-19 were the South African variant, the jab was 60 per cent effective in people without HIV.

How is it stored?

Doses of Novavax can be stored for up to three months at fridge temperature – unlike the inoculations from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which must be kept at ultra-low temperatures.

Novavax can also be made using existing bioreactor equipment, which is largely already available to manufacturing plants. Distribution is expected to be worldwide once approved.

The UK and other countries have used a variety of different vaccines as part of their immunisation drives, with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs already being rolled out.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to be available from April.

Where is it made?

The protein antigen component of the vaccine is produced in the northeast of England by Novavax manufacturing partner Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies at its site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

A facility at Barnard Castle may begin providing the “fill and finish” – preparing vials of the final vaccine and packaging them for distribution and use – as early as May.

It said the “rapid technology transfer” between the two companies will begin immediately.

Has it been approved?

Not yet, but a rolling review is underway by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to assess the vaccine and ensure it is released as safely and quickly as possible.

Additional reporting by PA

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