Novavax is an old fashioned type of vaccine

Novavax is an old fashioned type of vaccine. By Hilda Bastian.

The hype around the early-bird vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna has distorted perception. Their rapid arrival has been described in this magazine as “the triumph of mRNA” — a brand-new vaccine technology whose “potential stretches far beyond this pandemic.” …

But the fascination with the newest, shiniest options obscured some basic facts. These two particular mRNA vaccines may have been the first to get results from Phase 3 clinical trials, but that’s because of superior trial management, not secret vaccine sauce.

For now, they are harder and more expensive to manufacture and distribute than traditional types of vaccines, and their side effects are more common and more severe.

The latest Novavax data confirm that it’s possible to achieve the same efficacy against COVID-19 with a more familiar technology that more people may be inclined to trust. …

Although the U.S. has plenty of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available right now, demand for them has cratered. …

Enter Novavax:

In this context, the success of the Novavax vaccine should be A1 news. The recent results confirm that it has roughly the same efficacy as the two authorized mRNA vaccines, with the added benefit of being based on an older, more familiar science.

The protein-subunit approach used by Novavax was first implemented for the hepatitis B vaccine, which has been used in the U.S. since 1986. The pertussis vaccine, which is required for almost all children in U.S. public schools, is also made this way. …

The Novavax vaccine also has a substantially lower rate of side effects than the authorized mRNA vaccines. Last week’s data showed that about 40 percent of people who receive Novavax report fatigue after the second dose, as compared with 65 percent for Moderna and more than 55 percent for Pfizer. Based on the results of Novavax’s first efficacy trial in the U.K., side effects (including but not limited to fatigue) aren’t just less frequent; they’re milder too. …

The more old-school vaccine from Novavax combines ease of manufacture with high efficacy and lower side effects. For the moment, it’s the best COVID-19 vaccine we have.

Keep working on vaccines please. The current ones on offer are not very effective and are too dangerous.

hat-tip Stephen Neil