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2022-03-16| COVID-19

Was Novavax’s Vaccine Rollout Smooth?

by Eduardo Longoria
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Novavax’s vaccine Nuvaxovid (NVX-CoV2373) is a multimeric protein nanoparticle-based vaccine that offers alternatives to the mRNA and viral vector-based vaccines that dominate the market today. The vaccine makes use of the protein sequences of the surface proteins of SARS-CoV-2 to immunize patients against infection. 

This vaccine is particularly interesting because rather than the nanoparticle being made of a bio-inert material (gold etc.) it is actually made out of the vaccine proteins. The genetic sequence of the viral surface proteins is used to produce protein antigens via a baculovirus that is inserted in Sf9 insect cells. Along with the antigens themselves, the sequences that are encoded into proteins also have secondary protein structures that allow the antigens to fold into structures that can attach to other, exact same, sequences of the protein and so form a round nanoparticle. All of this is combed with a saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant (chemical additive to increase the immune response).

While there are some advantages to this vaccine it certainly has its potential shortfalls. The vaccine travels best between 2 and 8 Celsius and so cannot be transported in the same coolers as the viral vector and mRNA vaccines that require much lower temperatures.

Related article: Notable Novel FDA Approved Drugs in 2021

 

A Unique Option 

 

This vaccine is in contrast to the mRNA and viral vector vaccines that make up the majority of available options. This difference poses a distinct advantage for Novaxoid because of the current skepticism surrounding mRNA vaccines in certain communities. Despite the unfortunate misinformation about vaccines, anything that encourages people to take them is a public health boon and will save society human and financial costs. 

“We suspect that those who haven’t been vaccinated yet may be now more inclined to be vaccinated (with a traditional vaccine such as Novavax’s),” said Paul Heath, leader of the UK trial and professor of paediatric infectious diseases at the University of London.

Along with the increased willingness to use them the vaccine has been made available in countries the world over and also available for shipment as part of the COVAX program. This program gives the drug an extended reach of approximately another 2 billion people. 

 

$1.6 Billion to Advance at Warp Speed

 

Novavax received $1.6 billion to develop their vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed in 2020 and originally intended to submit the application for a EUA in the second quarter of 2021. However, due to supply shortages, they were delayed until recently. 

Despite being late to the party, Novavaxoid is receiving a positive review and goes against the story told by  Novavax’s stock price which has been trending downward since its local peak at $95.18 on February 1st 2022. Overall, the outlook for Novavax is a positive one despite not having the same financial boost coming from the height of the pandemic; it still has technology worth examining and the potential to soothe the public.  

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