The vaccine from Novavax, a company backed by the US government, said yesterday (28) that its vaccine against covid-19 provides robust protection against the virus (its effectiveness has been estimated at 90% in the UK). However, the manufacturer acknowledged that the immunizer is less effective against the fast-spreading variety discovered in South Africa.
This could be yet another setback in the race to end the pandemic, especially in the United States, which reported the first two cases of the virus variant in that country just hours before Novavax’s announcement. Moderna and Pfizer also acknowledged a few days ago that their respective vaccines were also less effective against this new strain of the virus.
Novavax, one of six vaccines supported by the Operation Warp Speed initiative, has conducted tests in Great Britain, South Africa, the United States and Mexico. According to the company, the two-dose vaccine was nearly 90% effective in the test conducted on 15,000 volunteers in Great Britain. In a small trial in South Africa, however, that percentage dropped to less than 50%.
New highly contagious varieties
Observing that three vaccines with tested efficacy did not perform as well against the variant known as B.1.351 is a discouraging element in the fight against the coronavirus, especially when we consider that many of the trial participants in South Africa were infected, even after being covid-19 earlier.
With these announcements, all eyes in the world are on Johnson & Johnson, who should have announced its results last week. Some speculate that the delay is due to the discovery that the effectiveness of the vaccine was also lower in the tests in South Africa. But the company’s president, Alex Gorsky, said he would like to share the results.
Amid these disappointments, many experts point out that there are reasons for optimism as vaccines remain effective. According to these health officials, the best way to combat new contagious variants is to speed up vaccination to reduce the virus’s ability to infect more people and produce more mutations.