‘Traditional method’ protein vaccine Novavax approved for use in Australia

Ellen RansleyNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Australians sceptical about getting any of the “new technology” Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia finally have a fourth, more traditional, option.

Novavax has been provisionally approved for use in Australia, with health authorities hoping it will drive Covid-19 vaccination rates closer to 100 per cent.

Pending a final tick of approval from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the vaccine could be in Australian arms within weeks.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia had 51 million units of the vaccine – the first protein Covid-19 vaccine to be approved – on order once all boxes are checked.

Mr Hunt said authorities hoped people sceptical about previously approved vaccines would take up Novavax.

“Obviously we have a first dose national vaccination rate of 95.2 per cent, and we know some people have waited for Novavax,” Mr Hunt said.

“Hopefully this will encourage those people in that less than five per cent to come forward and be vaccinated.”

TGA head professor John Skerritt said there were some individuals who were worried about “new technology” mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, who were more confident in receiving a protein vaccine.

“The technology on which Novavax is made is an older technology. And I would have had sever hundreds of emails from individuals and groups who have said, for whatever reason, we would like to have a protein vaccine,” professor Skerritt said.

“I don’t know (how many) individuals, but this just gives them further choice.”

According to the TGA, protein vaccines use a non-infectious component found on the surface of the coronavirus and are manufactured in cells in a laboratory.

“After vaccination, immune cells recognise the vaccine protein as foreign, and launch an immune response against it,” the TGA said in a statement.

The TGA said Novavax was approved for use in Australians 18 years and older, with two doses given three weeks apart.

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Camera IconClinical trials have shown Novavax is 90 per cent effective when two doses are administered three weeks apart. NCA NewsWire/Brenton Edwards Credit: News Corp Australia

Professor Skerritt said clinical trials have shown Novavax has over 90 per cent efficacy against symptomatic infections, and there are no strong signals of adverse events.

At this stage, Novavax is only approved for use as a primary course and not for boosters, but the TGA anticipates that could change.

“I know there is interest in potential for Novavax to be used as a booster, or even in adolescents (12-17) or as a paediatric (5-11) dose,” professor Skerritt said.

“The company hasn’t yet submitted an application to us for that, but we’re talking to them, and we’ve given an undertaking as we do for all Covid vaccines that as soon as we get that data, we will review it as an absolute top priority.”

Originally published as ‘Traditional method’ protein vaccine Novavax approved for use in Australia

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