On Tuesday, a panel of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) outside vaccine advisors voted to recommend the use of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccination for those 18 and older.
“Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available in the coming weeks, is an important tool in the pandemic and provides a more familiar type of COVID-19 vaccine technology for adults,” the CDC said in a statement.
Novavax’s vaccine had previously been authorized by U.S. regulators last week, but the CDC’s approval was the final obstacle for it to become available. The agency stressed the importance of multiple options and flexibility for the public.
67.6% of the American population is fully vaccinated, with 79.1% having received at least one dose. However, the CDC stated there are still between 26 million to 37 million adults who have yet to receive a single dosage.
“If you have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine built on a different technology than those previously available, now is the time to join the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
“With COVID-19 cases on the rise again across parts of the country, vaccination is critical to help protect against the complications of severe COVID-19 disease.”
The Novavax vaccine is particularly interesting because of how it works in contrast to other COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines are trained to recognize the virus’ outer coating, the spike protein. Vaccines like Moderna and Pzifer give the body genetic instructions on how to replicate the spike protein.
In contrast, instead of telling the body how to make spike protein copies, the Novavax vaccine delivers copies, made in a lab and packaged into nanoparticles, straight to the body that will help the immune system to respond to the vaccine.
One of the ingredients used in this process is adjuvant. The CDC noted vaccines using protein subunits “have been used for more than 30 years in the United States, beginning with the first licensed hepatitis B vaccine” and later with influenza and whooping cough.
According to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report, the vaccine was found to be 90% effective against mild, moderate, and severe disease in Novavax’s Phase 3 trial, which involved 30,000 participants.
While that study was done before the Delta and Omicron waves, leaving the vaccine’s efficiency against the subvariants unknown, the company also possesses a COVID-19 Omicron vaccine that currently sits in Phase 3.
The hope is that the Novavax vaccine will present familiarity and assurance to those who haven’t received a dosage due to the mRNA technology utilized being unfamiliar.
It’s anyone’s guess as to if that play will work, but more vaccinations of any kind will undoubtedly help to continue curbing a pandemic that’s once again seeing surges in the warm summer months. The country is currently averaging 127,000 new cases per day.
The Novavax vaccine’s initial quantity will be scarce, the Biden Administration told states, which will be unable to start requesting shipments until next week. Additionally, not all providers will carry the vaccine. Given the timeline presented, the Novavax vaccine should start seeing use sometime in August.
Andrew Rhoades is a Contributing Reporter at The National Digest based in New York. A Saint Joseph’s University graduate, Rhoades’ reporting includes sports, U.S., and entertainment. You can reach him at email@example.com.