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News & Trends - Biotechnology

Booster approval important for Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, says Prof Booy

Health Industry Hub | January 21, 2022 |
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Biotech News: The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the fourth COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax’s Nuvaxovid. Subject to approval from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the vaccine will be used as a primary vaccine for those 18 and older, but not yet as a booster or a vaccine for children.

Professor Robert Booy Senior Professorial Fellow at the Sydney University Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School, Past Head of Clinical Research and Current Affiliate of the National Centre for Immunisation Research, welcomed the new addition which is the first protein-based COVID-19 vaccine.

In comparing the efficacy of this new vaccine to those already available – Comirnaty (Pfizer), Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and Spikevax (Moderna), Professor Booy told Health Industry Hub “Nuvaxovid has been tested against the original Alpha and Beta strains. The trials [U.S. and Mexico, UK] finished recruiting before the Delta variant was common. It may have some data on Delta but certainly not on Omicron.

“Based on the patients that were recruited, there are high levels of protection. I would treat Nuvaxovid as having equivalent efficacy to the mRNA vaccines and viral vectored vaccines. They’re all in a similar boat of being highly effective for severe disease. What we don’t know with certainty is how it will protect against Omicron.

“Epidemiologically it’s a great addition. I think it will improve vaccine uptake by 2% – 3% because some people have been hanging out for a protein based vaccine using a clever new technology,” he said.

The key will be whether the vaccine is approved by the TGA for use as a booster, given Australia’s more than 90% coverage in adults for the primary series. A recent publication in the Lancet by Munro et al demonstrated that Nuvaxovid as a booster after both Pfizer and AstraZeneca primary course was safe and elicited a boost in antibody levels.  

Professor Booy added “I think it’s very important that they get the booster approval. That will be very helpful.”

Novavax and the Commonwealth of Australia announced an advance purchase agreement (APA) for 51 million doses of Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021, with the option for an additional 10 million doses (up to 61 million doses total). The approval for provisional registration leverages Novavax’s manufacturing partnership with Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, which will supply initial doses to Australia. It will later be supplemented with data from additional manufacturing sites in Novavax’ global supply chain.

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