COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH/AP) — There may soon be another tool in the arsenal to combat COVID-19 in the United States that experts say may appeal to more people: the Novavax vaccine.
On Tuesday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend authorization of shots made by Novavax.
“The Novavax vaccine is a more traditional vaccine,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, OhioHealth medical director of infectious diseases. “Remember, we want your body to have safety against this virus by having exposure to the spike protein. And with mRNA vaccines [Pfizer and Moderna] or the J&J vaccine, you’re actually teaching your own cells to make this by protein. The Novavax vaccine is a more traditional vaccine. And the spike protein is actually made in the lab.”
Gastaldo said the spike protein is made using insect cells from moths. This technology, he explained, is used in many other vaccines such as hepatitis B and the new shingles vaccine.
“Having [the Novavax] vaccine available, I think is important for Americans, because there are people for many reasons who are fearful or uncomfortable with mRNA vaccines, and having a more traditional vaccine, I think is going to be a welcome option for many people in the community,” Gastaldo said.
The Maryland-based company conducted clinical trials for the vaccine on roughly 25,000 people in the United States and North America, and its shots are already available in Australia, Canada, parts of Europe, and multiple other countries, either for initial vaccinations or as mix-and-match boosters.
“In the clinical trial, the Novavax vaccine prevented COVID-19 in roughly 90% of participants,” Gastaldo said. “In the clinical trial that’s been published, the vaccine when you compare it to Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines had less reactogenicity, less of a side effect profile. Also the Novavax vaccine, there were two volunteers who did have signals potentially with myocarditis. So that obviously needs to be looked at and watched closely.”
The potential approval of this fourth vaccine option being made available in the United States comes at a time when around 63% of Ohioans and 78% of all Americans are already vaccinated against COVID-19, per the Ohio Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, respectively. And that number is expected to go up soon as more age groups become eligible for the already-approved vaccines.
“By the end of June, all signals are pointing to the vaccine availability to all Americans down to the age of six months. That’s positive news,” Gastaldo said. “We really want everybody to be on point with staying up to date on their vaccines. And that means for everybody five and older at least one booster.”
You can watch the full interview with Dr. Gastaldo in the video player below.