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How does the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine fit into the US and the global strategy to combat disease?

This article was published on
June 15, 2021

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SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

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What our experts say

Context and background

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Media briefing

Media Release

Expert Comments: 

Lee W. Riley, MD

In the US, we already have several other types of vaccines under Emergency Use Authorization, which are now widely available, so the Novavax vaccine may not play a major role in the US strategy to combat COVID-19.  However, for the global strategy, the Novavax vaccine could still make important contributions. It doesn’t need the ultra-cold temperatures for storage that the mRNA-based vaccines require, and it’s not based on live-virus vector technology, which has safety concerns. So the production, global distribution, and administration of the Novavax vaccine will be simpler, which is important for countries in most need of COVID-19 vaccines.

Maria Elena Bottazzi, PhD

Novavax has entered into an agreement with the Serum Institute of India for scale-up production, but the company is also entering into agreements with additional manufacturers. In general, protein-based vaccines offer enormous promise for filling the COVID-19 vaccine access gaps, especially for the world’s lower- and middle-income countries in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Natalie Dean, PhD

The Novavax vaccine will hopefully become available in the US later in 2021, following either an Emergency Use Authorization or full licensure. Given the availability of other vaccines, it is unclear what the market will look like within the US at that time. Some individuals may prefer a protein subunit vaccine over an mRNA vaccine or the J&J adenovirus vaccine. Expanding our options is always advantageous, particularly because the Novavax vaccine has simpler storage requirements and because we are not sure about the long-term durability of mRNA or adenovirus vaccines. In the US, the Novavax vaccine could have a role as a booster if these are needed. Globally, there remains an enormous need for more vaccines. The Novavax vaccine can help protect high-risk individuals across the world, many of whom are still unvaccinated.

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