January 24, 2022

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

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

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In its opinion, the body responsible for determining the vaccine strategy emphasizes that this new product, validated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on December 20, has a very satisfactory safety and efficacy profile. The injection of two doses three weeks apart provides 90% efficacy against all symptoms and 100% against serious forms. As for the adverse effects, they appear close to those already recorded with the previous formulas: sensitivity (69%) and pain (58%) at the injection site, fatigue (47%), headaches (43%) and malaise (37%), with increased sensitivity in younger subjects.

The real novelty of this formula is actually its technology, which is not new. It consists of injecting not genetic information but directly a piece of protein from the virus, which will allow the immune system to arm itself against a future attack by SARS-CoV-2. Vaccines against hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis and whooping cough 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

The HAS does not present this new product as a miracle cure. Long-term efficacy and effectiveness 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 to “Privilege” messenger RNA vaccines, with at least partially proven efficacy against the latest mutants. It also specifies that the Novavax product does not have European marketing authorization for the third dose, nor “does not have real-life data to justify its administration”.

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