The Serum Institute of India, which is preparing to produce Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine in the country under the name Covovax, plans to start trials of the vaccine on children next month, sources in the company told NDTV on Thursday.
US-based Novovax on Monday had said its COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in a large, late-stage clinical trial in America and Mexico. Trials on adults in India had started in March.
The government has been counting on the vaccine, expected to be among the cheaper options in the market, to make up for the shortfall that exacerbated India’s devastating second wave and forced it to stop exports.
“Novavax is very exciting. In the past week, it has created a rage because India is going to manufacture almost a billion doses a year. It is going to be simple and cheaper with a 90 per cent vaccine effectiveness,” Dr NK Arora, chairperson of the Centre’s Covid Working Group, told NDTV on Wednesday.
The vaccine is expected to be launched in India in September. It is the second coronavirus vaccine to be made in India by the Serum Institute after Covishield that has been developed in partnership with the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca.
According to Novavax, its jab has “demonstrated 100 per cent protection against moderate and severe disease, 90.4 per cent efficacy overall in the study enrolled 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the US and Mexico to evaluate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity.”
The Maryland-headquartered company said it intended to apply for regulatory approval by the third quarter of 2021.
Unlike some rival jabs, Novavax’s vaccine — formally known as NVX-CoV2373 — does not have to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, allowing the use of existing vaccine supply chain channels for its distribution.
In theory at least, this means the shots should be more easily transported and administered in countries with less well-developed health infrastructures.