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Our COVID vaccine is 90% effective, says US firm Novavax

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By Lauren Chadwick
A vial of the Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. George's University hospital in London.
A vial of the Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. George's University hospital in London.   -   Copyright  Alastair Grant/AP Photo
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Vaccine company Novavax said on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was 90.4% effective overall, fuelling hope that there could soon be another preventive tool to fight the pandemic.

Novavax released the results of a study involving 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the US and Mexico, showing that the two-shot vaccine was effective against variants.

In the trial, there were 77 cases of COVID-19: 63 in the placebo group and 14 in the vaccine group.

The American vaccine company also said the jab had 93% efficacy against "predominantly circulating Variants of Concern and Variants of Interest" including the Alpha variant first originating in the UK.

The jab was 100% effective at preventing severe and moderate disease, Novavax said, with all COVID-19 hospitalisations and death appearing in the study group that did not receive the vaccine.

The company aims to produce 150 million doses of its vaccine per month by the end of the year.

COVID-19 vaccines are still desperately needed globally with low and middle-income countries struggling to get doses to their populations.

Just around 12.7% of the world's population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data. Under 1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

Gavi secured a deal with Novavax for 350 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine secured for the COVAX Facility, which aims to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries.

Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine is protein-based, inducing antibodies that prevent the coronavirus spike protein from binding to cells.

Injection site pain was the most common side effect. Headache, fatigue and muscle pain were also common side effects, that lasted less than two days.

The European Commission concluded exploratory talks with Novavax in December 2020 to secure vaccine doses but has not yet signed a purchase agreement.