It has been announced that a new Covid-19 vaccine found to be nearly 90% effective can also protect against the newer, faster-spreading UK variant of the virus. The Novavax vaccine has undergone extensive trials in the UK, and it is now ready to be assessed by the medicines regulator, according to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
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The vaccination rollout across the UK has already seen the vast majority of over 80s receive their first doses. However, the vaccines developed and approved at the end of last year were not created with the new UK variant of the virus in mind. This is because scientists working on the development of vaccines were unaware of the UK and other variants of Covid-19 at the time.
There is proof that the new variant spreads far more quickly along with suggestions it could also be deadlier than the original. This has sparked widespread concern over whether the current vaccines can protect against the UK variant. As such, confirmation that the Novavax vaccine does offer protection against the UK variant has come as excellent news.
Vaccine undergoes successful clinical trials
After hearing about the outcome of trials relating to the new UK variant, the PM was said to be delighted. He confirmed that with the vaccine already having undergone large-scale testing in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would now carry out assessments.
The new vaccine was shown to be 89.3% effective in UK trials. Scientists confirmed that it is also 86% effective in preventing the new UK variant of the virus. As part of the trial's final phase, more than 15,000 people were enrolled to take part. All were adults aged between 18 and 84, with 27% of them being over the age of 65.
Trials of the vaccine were also carried out in South Africa. According to data, it was proven to be 60% effective against the South African variant of the virus among participants without HIV. The CEO of Novavax, Stan Erck, said the South Africa trial results exceeded expectations while describing UK trial results as 'spectacular’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the new vaccine as "another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus." He added, "I'm proud the UK is at the forefront of another medical breakthrough."
Millions of doses coming later this year
While the Novavax jab still has to be officially approved by UK regulators, the government has already placed an order for 60 million doses. Like other already approved vaccines, Novavax is delivered in two doses.
Health regulators cannot provide details of when the vaccine will be officially approved but said the NHS would be ready and waiting to roll it out once received.
It is thought delivery to the UK will most likely be in the second half of 2021. In the meantime, the vaccination rollout with the approved vaccines will continue.