In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Maryland-based biotech firm Novavax report that the company’s Johnson & Johnson-Janssen relies on an adenovirus to deliver SARS-CoV-2 genes to the body. Both approaches work by training the body’s immune cells to make viral proteins that other immune cells then attack, so these defenses are then ready to target the SARS-CoV-2 happens. Novavax its shot to contain the viral protein already, so when injected into the body, it’s immediately targeted as foreign.people from disease. The results come from a Phase 2 , which uses a different technology than the three COVID-19 shots currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently assigned photos from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both use an mRNA-based technology. At the same time,
In March, the company released results from its U.K.-based Phase 3 study, which showed that overall, the
The recent NEJM study involved more than 2,600 African country. That enabled the researchers to focus more specifically on whether the . Overall, a whole regime of the Novavax vaccine—two shots—is 51% efficacious in safeguarding people from COVID-19 symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.. It was started in November 2020—after the U.K. study and, coincidentally, after the emergence of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, called B.1.351, in the
That 51% number might not sound great. Still, we need to consider the context, says Shabir, Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the study’s senior author. “We need to recalibrate the expectations for this first generation of, “, especially for countries [like South Africa] where B.1.351 dominates. In these situations, it’s no longer important for a country to get so-called . The efficacy of with variants is somewhat diminished compared to the ancestral [virus].
Rather than expecting vaccines to get us to the herd immunity threshold, which I don’t believe will ever occur, the goal needs to be to ensure that we can vaccinate high-risk individuals as quickly as possible and get them from developing health conditions. “It’s really not about how many you get vaccinated but how many high-risk people you can get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” he says.and dying. Of COVID-19.” Madhi acknowledges that Novavax’s shot will likely have “limited value in targeting healthy younger people in a country such as South Africa” but argues that it could still be handy in stemming more severe disease in vulnerable people like the elderly and those with underlying
Among those high-risk individuals are people with compromised, either because of immune-suppressing treatments like chemotherapy for cancer or other infections like HIV. Because HIV is so prevalent in South Africa, to get a better idea of how well the vaccine works in people with weakened immune systems, the researchers also broke down efficacy by HIV status and found that the shot was slightly less productive in protecting against , and about 60% productive in protecting those who were HIV negative. The company declined to comment on the Phase 2 studies; a spokesperson will wait to comment until the Phase 3 results are available in the coming months.