Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine: What we know so far

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The Philippine government has recently inked a deal to secure 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Covovax, which is developed by US-based biotechnology company Novavax. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12)— The Philippine government has recently inked a deal to secure 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Covovax, which is developed by US-based biotechnology company Novavax.

The doses are expected to arrive in the country beginning the third quarter of 2021, product manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) announced over the weekend.

What makes the vaccine different from the other ones in the market? What are the initial results of its clinical trials? CNN Philippines spoke to Dr. Luningning Villa, medical director of Faberco Life Sciences, SII’s local partner, to learn more.

Developed by US-based company, manufactured in India

While it is developed by American-based Novavax, the Covovax vaccine is manufactured in India. The company had a license agreement with the SII, which directs the latter to manufacture at least one billion doses, according to Villa.

Doses to inoculate vulnerable sector in PH

The doses are expected to accommodate 15 million Filipinos. In a press release over the weekend, Villa noted the target sector would be the “vulnerable and poor" in the country.

Clinical trials ‘encouraging’

Clinical trials for the vaccine have been deployed in different countries including the US, the United Kingdom, and Mexico, among others. While official stage 3 results have yet to be released, Villa said initial data have been “encouraging.”

“The results of the initial phases of the clinical trials are very encouraging,” Villa told The Source. “In the first phases, it’s saying that the immune response, the protective antibody level is even higher than those who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection themselves.”

Participants of the clinical trials range from 18 to 84 years old, Villa noted. She likewise revealed that the vaccine is also being tested in healthy HIV positive patients.

Villa said they are expecting interim results on Covovax by next month. “By the second quarter, we will have solid evidence for safety and efficacy profile of this vaccine,” she added.

Adjuvant in the vaccine

The product also has a plant-based adjuvant, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described as an “ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving” it.

‘Not difficult to handle’

Villa also noted that the vaccine is stable at 2°C to 8°C. “That means that the vaccine can be transported and stored at the regular temperatures required in our existing cold chain systems," she explained. "So it’s not too complicated, it’s not too difficult to handle.”

SII ‘ready’ to supply sectors

Villa assured that Faberco and SII are ready to cater to all sectors that would be interested in the vaccine, but stressed that they would be still be taking the cue from the national government and appointed vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. regarding arrangements and orders.

She added that the company has received inquiries as well as “expression of interest” from some local government units.