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Novavax COVID-19 vaccine effective against variants identified in SA, UK - Madhi

Data shows the vaccine has a 60% efficacy for the prevention of mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 in 92% of the cohort that was HIV-negative.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is effective against coronavirus variants identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

This is according to Wits University's Professor Shabir Madhi, who shared clinical trial data during a late-night webinar.

Just over 4,400 participants were enrolled in South Africa's Phase 2b study that started in August last year.

Data shows the vaccine has a 60% efficacy for the prevention of mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 in 92% of the cohort that was HIV-negative.

Madhi, who's the lead investigator in the trial, said that the ability of COVID-19 vaccines to impact the pandemic would depend on the product, its efficacy, and how quickly we could scale up coverage of the vaccine.

"In the study itself, after 4,400 points, we managed to do sequencing, 93% of all of the cases ended up being the 501Y.V2 variant. So all of the efficacy results is speaking to efficacy in relation to this dominant, mutated virus."

Madhi stressed that a 60% efficacy was a big win.

"We just need to remember that the FDA, the EMA and the WHO have indicated that in terms of what they're expecting of a COVID-19 vaccine for it to be of public health value, is any efficacy of more than 50% which last for at least six months.

South African Medical Research Council president and CEO, Professor Glenda Gray, said that this result held individual and public health benefits.

"If we can prevent more hopsitalisation and deaths, then this is an important outcome. Also it's important to note that as the new variants start to circulate, we might see a diminishing vaccine effectiveness in other vaccines that are currently being rolled out at a global level."

Novavax is set to immediately begin clinical development of the vaccine.

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