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Novavax starts Phase 1 clinical trial of coronavirus vaccine candidate

The Maryland-based late-stage biotechnology company in April said it identified the candidate, NVX-CoV2373, with which it planned to use its Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance immune responses.

May 26, 2020 / 11:36 AM IST
Representative image

Representative image

Novavax Inc said on Monday it has started the Phase 1 clinical trial of a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate and has enrolled the trial's first participants, with preliminary results slated for July.

The Maryland-based late-stage biotechnology company in April said it identified the candidate, NVX-CoV2373, with which it planned to use its Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance immune responses.

Adjuvants are mainly used to make vaccines induce a strong immune response, including through the greater production of antibodies, and provide longer-lasting protection against viral and bacterial infection.

Novavax said it expects preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the trial in July.

The announcement comes as drugmakers pause clinical trials for other ailments and race to find an antidote for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus which has infected more than 5.3 million people worldwide and killed over 343,000.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Novavax said, upon successful completion of Phase 1, the Phase 2 portion of the trial will be conducted in several countries, including the United States.

The Phase 2 trial will assess immunity, safety and COVID-19 disease reduction in a broader age range, Novavax said.
Reuters
first published: May 26, 2020 11:29 am

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