Novavax begins final stage COVID-19 vaccine testing

Novavax has begun final stage testing of its COVID-19 vaccine, with one trial taking place in the U.K. and another in the U.S. scheduled to begin next month, The New York Times reported. 

The vaccine from the Gaithersburg, Md.-based drugmaker is the fifth funded by Operation Warp Speed, the government’s initiative to speed COVID-19 vaccine development, to reach phase 3 trials. It is one of 11 worldwide to reach this phase, according to the Times

Though Novavax has never brought a vaccine to market, the government gave the company $1.6 billion in late June to aid its trials. 

Novavax’s phase 3 trial is expected to enroll up to 10,000 people in the U.K., according to the Times

Its vaccine delivered particularly promising results from earlier trials, as participants produced high levels of antibodies. A virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, John Moore, PhD, told the Times that Novavax’s vaccine produced “markedly higher” levels of antibodies than any other published results.

Novavax said the phase 3 trial would seek to enroll at least a quarter of its participants over the age of 65 and would prioritize groups most affected by COVID-19, including racial and ethnic minorities. 

The trial will also be unique because up to 400 participants will receive a flu shot along with the COVID-19 vaccine, the Times reported. Giving the flu shots will help determine whether it’s safe to give two vaccinations at once. 

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