Novavax has emerged in the USA, delivering the first protein-based Covid vaccine to reach American shores. This new vaccine was recently approved by the FDA for emergency use. Full FDA approval and CDC recommendation are yet to come. However, the Biden Administration seems to be planning for its complete implementation soon—purchasing $3.2 million Novavax doses.
What Makes Novavax Different?
Novavax contrasts with other Covid vaccines because it combines new technologies and old. Innovative methods such as nanoparticle technology and natural adjuvants (ingredients) bolster immune response in new ways. However, it’s the historic protein-based element that truly sets this vaccine apart. Novavax harnesses time-tested protein-based technology that has been used in vaccines for decades.
This process stands in contrast to the mRNA technology used to develop other Covid vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. Novavax’s traditional protein-based structure may prove more appealing to Americans who are currently unvaccinated. With time and tradition on their side, Novavax’s researchers believe they have an advantage. Novavax's chief medical officer Filip Dubovsky told the media, "I think some people are reassured by the decades of safety profiles which are based on this technology."1
And yet, the question remains—will unvaccinated Americans accept Novavax if they didn’t accept its vaccine counterparts?
Only time will tell.
Understanding Protein-based Vaccine Technology
Just how do protein-based vaccines work? Let’s take a look.
Protein-based vaccines begin by extracting a protein fragment from the disease they’re attempting to protect against. They then introduce this protein into the body in the form of a vaccine. The body reacts by creating an immune response which in turn provides protection against the targeted disease.
This type of immunization process is backed by decades of research and successful patient immunity.
The protein-based process is different from the creation of Pfizer and Moderna since these vaccines are based on synthetically produced mRNA. Vaccines with mRNA work by introducing a manufactured genetic code into the body and instigating an immune response against the coded virus. However, this method doesn’t use organic fragments of the actual disease they’re protecting against. Protein-based vaccines do.
Novavax was tested in a USA and Mexico-based trial with a 90.4 percent efficacy. Cancer professor and FDA advisor Wayne A. Marasco recounts, “I wonder if we’re not witnessing some of the limitation that there may be [of] the mRNA vaccines. Yes, they were first out of the gate. But they don’t appear to have that breadth of protection.”2
Cold Storage Requirements for Novavax
Storage requirements for Novavax are easier than some Covid vaccine counterparts since ultra-low freezing is not required. Instead, Novavax needs to be refrigerated at 2° to 8°C and kept from light and frozen temperatures. All Novavax vaccines should be stored in purpose-built vaccine refrigeration for freshness, safety, and efficacy.
Novavax promises much. And Americans still anticipate its complete implementation. But it likely won’t be long. The full release of the first protein-based Covid vaccine lies close on the horizon.
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