Novavax Starts COVID-19 Vaccine Trials in Australia

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First Phase of the Trial Begins

Novavax, a U.S. based biotechnology company has announced the start of human trials in Australia for the COVID-19 vaccine. The company has anticipated the first results to come by July. In the first phase of the trial, 130 adult healthy volunteers at two sites in Australia will get two doses of the company’s experimental vaccine named NVX-CoV2373. The company plans to quickly move into the second phase of the trial if the initial results look promising. 

In the second phase, Novavax will expand testing to other countries and age groups outside of 18 to 59. “Our investment in Novavax allows us to focus on manufacturing in parallel with the clinical development of vaccine, so that if the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, we can make doses available to those who need them without delay,” said CEPI Chief Executive Richard Hatchett. 

Competition for the Vaccine

About a dozen experimental vaccines are in early stages of testing or poised to start around the world. It is not clear that any of the candidates ultimately will prove safe and effective. But many work in different ways and are made with different technologies, increasing the odds that at least one approach might succeed. Among many vaccines using different technologies, Novavax has introduced a new kind to that list. The vaccine is known as recombinant vaccine. 

Novavax uses genetic engineering to grow harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein in giant vats of insect cells in laboratory. Scientists extract and purify the protein, and package it into virus-sized nanoparticles. It is the same process that Novavax used to create the nanoparticle flu vaccine that recently passed late-stage testing. “The way we make a vaccine is we never touch the virus. But ultimately, it looks just like a virus to the immune system,” Novavax said last month. 

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