With the authorization of the Novavax vaccine, France reinforces its arsenal against Covid-19

The Covid-19 vaccine produced by Novavax, January 11, 2021.

And five! The High Health Authority (HAS) authorized, on Friday, January 14, the use of the vaccine against Covid-19 developed by the Novavax laboratory. After messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, viral vector vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, a new weapon against SARS-CoV-2 enters the French preventive arsenal. Its use could start “in early February”, the Ministry of Health declared on January 6. France should receive “3.2 million doses” in the first quarter, and has put an option for “an additional 3.2 million doses” in the second quarter.

read also Article reserved for our subscribers Novavax, the American biotechnology company promoted by its vaccine against Covid-19

In its opinion, the body in charge of determining the vaccine strategy highlights that this new product, validated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on December 20, has a very satisfactory safety and efficacy profile. Injecting two doses three weeks apart provides 90% efficacy against all symptoms and 100% efficacy against severe forms. Regarding the undesirable effects, they are similar to those already registered with the previous formulas: sensitivity (69%) and pain (58%) at the injection site, fatigue (47%), headache (43%) and general malaise (37%). ), with greater sensitivity in younger subjects.

The real novelty of this formula is precisely its technology, which is not new. It consists of injecting not genetic information but directly a piece of virus protein, which will allow the immune system to arm itself against a future SARS-CoV-2 attack. Vaccines against hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis and pertussis are based precisely on this method. The only real innovation: the adjuvant used to stimulate the immune system. Instead of the traditional aluminum, Novavax has developed a formula called Matrix M, designed based on saponins, a type of molecule found in plants and animals, known for its emulsifying, detergent or expectorant properties.

Continue to favor RNA vaccines

HAS does not present this new product as a miracle cure. Long-term efficacy and efficacy against transmission remain unknown and “efficacy against Delta and Omicron variants (which emerged after the end of clinical trial follow-up) remains to be confirmed,” recalls the instance. The High Authority also insists on the need to continue “favoring” messenger RNA vaccines, with efficacy at least partially demonstrated against the latest mutants. It also specifies that the Novavax product does not have a European marketing authorization as a third dose, nor does it “have real-life data to justify its administration.”

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