India is likely to roll out Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine with Serum Institute of India as its manufacturing partner. To be called Covovax in India, the vaccine will be developed by the US-based biotechnology firm Novavax.
India started its vaccination drive on January 16, 2021.
So far, more than 26 crore people have been inoculated with two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. Over 21 crore people have been inoculated with the first dose, while more than 4 crore people have been fully vaccinated in India. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will soon be commercially available in the Indian markets after completing its pilot project.
The Covovax will be a two-dose vaccine. Like most other Covid-19 jabs, the Covovax shot will be injected into the arm of the beneficiary.
The efficacy rate of a vaccine is the percentage reduction of a disease in a vaccinated group compared with an unvaccinated group in a clinical trial.
Here are 5 things you should know about the Covovax vaccine.
1. Covovax set to arrive in India
In India, Serum Institute hopes to launch the vaccine by September 2021. Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, announced that they expected to roll out the first batch of vaccines in India by September. India has closely observed the developments related to the vaccine. Dr V.K Paul, Niti Aayog member (Health) has said that as per the data, “the vaccine is very safe and highly effective.” Serum Institute will also start the clinical trial of the vaccine on children in July.
2. The vaccine is yet to be authorized for use
The vaccine is yet to be authorized for use in any country. In its report, Novavax has announced that it plans on producing 100 million doses per month by the end of the third quarter and 150 million doses per month by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021. The firm will file for regulatory authorization in the US, UK and India in the third quarter.
Novavax initiated the authorization process by submitting its results to the United Kingdom’s regulatory agency, the MHRA, in mid-January. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson welcomed the trial results.
3. Phase 3 trial results are promising
Codified as NVX-CoV2373, the vaccine has shown efficacy of 90.4% in Phase 3 Trials. In the study that involved 29,960 participants in the US and Mexico, Novavax vaccine was found to provide 100% protection against moderate and severe disease. The vaccine also shows 91% efficacy in high-risk populations.The vaccine trials have also shown positive immune response and protection against the Beta virus variant, originally found in South Africa.
In its Phase 3 Trial report, Novavax added that the efficacy data was collected between January 25 and April 30 2021, at the time when the first identified variant in the UK, Alpha, or B.1.1.7 variant became the predominant strain in the US. It’s performance against the Delta strain is yet to be looked into.
4. Covovax will be a protein-based vaccine
This is a protein-based vaccine, which aims at the same mechanism as aimed by the other vaccines, that is to train the body in order to ward off the novel coronavirus.
Novavax uses adjuvants – a compound that enhances immune response so that the body learns to recognize and fight off the virus. The vaccine tried to mimic the spike proteins at the surface of the virus that is used to invade inside the body and infect human cells.
The Novavax vaccine uses a modified spike protein that scientists obtained by inserting its genetic information into a different virus, called a baculovirus. After harvesting these spike cells, the scientists assemble them into so-called nanoparticles that are mixed with a synthetic soap-like particle.
5. Covovax differs from other vaccines in terms of storage and approach
Every vaccine takes a different approach to fight the virus.
Moderna and Pfizer use Messenger RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). These vaccines send genetic information to the healthy cells to make a spike protein that is different from the virus that causes Covid-19 and fight it.
Novavax, on the other hand, is a protein subunit vaccine. Subunit vaccine includes few components that originate from the disease-causing bacteria. This protein subunit that requires an adjuvant, does not generate strong immune responses as compared to the other vaccines.
Speaking with CBS17, Dr. David Wohl, Medicine immunologist of the UNC School explained how Novavax will apply a different approach and fight the virus. “They take a virus and give it some genetic information, put it inside of the cells from a moth, like an insect, a moth – use that cell to act as sort of a crop to make spiked proteins, collect those spiked proteins, assemble them together and then inject it.”
The vaccine is stable in regular refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 Degree Celsius, making it suitable for storage and transportation in developing countries. Unlike Novavax, Pfizer’s vaccine needs to remain frozen before use at –70 C, while Moderna’s vaccine needs to be stored at –20 C.