Covid-19: green light for a fifth vaccine in France, that of Novavax

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A fifth vaccine against Covid-19, the one developed by the American group Novavax, may be used in France. The High Health Authority (HAS) gave the green light this Friday.

The Covid-19 vaccine from the American laboratory Novavax, based on classic technology, will become the fifth to be made available in France after the green light from the High Health Authority (HAS) on Friday. This vaccine and that of Janssen (already available for people over 55 years of age) may in some cases be “a useful alternative” for people who are reluctant to inject themselves with messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, the HAS judges in its opinion.

Even if four vaccines were previously authorized in France, those of Pfizer and Moderna are, in fact, used almost exclusively. They are based on an unprecedented technology, messenger RNA. The other two, those of AstraZeneca and Janssen, are redirected to poor countries through the international Covax program.

The first deliveries of the Novavax vaccine (marketed under the name Nuvaxovid) should take place in early February, the Ministry of Health said this week, pending the opinion of the HAS. On December 21, the European Union gave the green light to this vaccine based on the same technology as that for whooping cough.

Responsible for defining France’s vaccination policy, the HAS considers in its new opinion that we should “favour” mRNA vaccines for the first injections as well as for the booster, due to their high efficacy. However, he believes that Novavax and Janssen “represent an additional option” for people who are “unwilling or unable to receive” mRNA vaccines. These are “people who are resistant to mRNA vaccines” or “those who have suffered a serious adverse event after a first injection”.

In the context of an epidemic outbreak due to the Omicron variant, it is “essential to complete the primary vaccination coverage and accelerate the withdrawal campaign” in these people, insists the HAS. For the first two doses, these people can be vaccinated with Janssen (two months between doses) or Novavax (three weeks between doses), as long as they are 55 years of age or older. If they are under 55 years of age, they can be vaccinated with Novavax. If not available, Janssen can be used “exceptionally” after informing the person that the risk of side effects is increased in this age group.

As a reminder, HAS believes that Janssen can be used in people 55 years of age and older, even if they have received two doses of the mRNA vaccine before. On the other hand, Novavax should never be used as a booster, due to lack of clinical trials.

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