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Panel of US experts gives green light to Novavax Covid vaccine


A panel of experts in the United States has given the green light to the Novavax Covid vaccine. The panel was convened by the US drug regulator. Although a late runner in the global fight against Covid, Novavax can help efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

Currently, three vaccines are approved in the United States; Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Panel experts voted 21 in favor of the Novavax vaccine. There was one abstention and no vote against the vaccine. There are concerns that the Novavax vaccine may be linked to rare cases of heart inflammation.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue emergency clearance soon. Then another agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will advise on how best to use it.

Novavax, based in Maryland, was a frontrunner in the global vaccine race, but has fallen behind after being hit by manufacturing and regulatory delays.

The US was one of the few major markets where it has yet to receive clearance, while the EU, UK, Canada and Australia are among those that have already given it the green light.

The vaccine is based on viral proteins grown in the laboratory. Officials hope Novavax will help people overcome vaccine hesitancy. The vaccine does not need cold storage requirements like Pfizer and Moerna vaccines do.

Possible link to myocarditis

Novavax’s vaccine has been shown to be more than 90% effective against symptomatic cases of the disease. But its trial was conducted long before the currently circulating Omicron sub-variants were mainstream, and the company may still need to add a booster or update its shot.

In addition, six cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, were detected in the group that received the vaccine, compared to one case in the placebo group, in a trial involving around 40,000 people.

Novavax says there is not enough evidence to establish a causal relationship between myocarditis cases and the vaccine.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 9:46pm on Friday June 17th, 2022