SA should include Novavax in its COVID-19 vaccine arsenal - Madhi

In a local Phase 2b clinical trial, the Novavax vaccine has shown a 60% efficacy in preventing mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 in HIV-negative participants. The vaccine also showed efficacy against the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant, according to Professor Shabir Madhi.

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CAPE TOWN - Novavax COVID-19 vaccines will likely be available for South Africa by the middle of this year.

Wits University professor, Shabir Madhi, said that the country should be putting plans in place to incorporate this vaccine in its arsenal fighting the disease.

Madhi participated in a virtual discussion on coronavirus vaccines hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa on Monday.

In a local Phase 2b clinical trial, the Novavax vaccine has shown a 60% efficacy in preventing mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 in HIV-negative participants.

Madhi, who was the trial's principal investigator, said that the vaccine had also shown efficacy against the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant.

"I think the technology lends itself to rapid scaling up they're targeting producing 1.2 million doses of the vaccine, so South African definitely needs to be making a pitch for that particular vaccine."

Madhi feels the country should've gone ahead with its vaccination drive, using the AstraZeneca vaccine that's now been benched.

"The worst that could have happened is that it doesn't protect but you're going to top it up with another booster but it's basically leaving people unvaccinated as opposed to the chance on a vaccine with a strong biological probability of being as effective as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine."

Stellenbosch University Medical Virology Division head, Professor Wolgang Preiser, stressed the importance of sharpening disease prevention mechanisms.

"It will delay and possibly reduce the next wave, which is likely to happen at some stage. Secondly, the more the virus is allowed to circulate through the population, the more we run the risk of more variants arising."

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