Novavax is latest biotech to begin coronavirus vaccine trial

Henrietta Brewer
May 27, 2020

Researchers developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus have already achieved a milestone that has eluded colleagues working for decades on a vaccine for HIV, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.

Novavax Inc. on Tuesday announced a phase 1/2 trial of its coronavirus vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, one of at least eight potential vaccines being tested against the pandemic that has caused some 347,000 deaths worldwide. "Moreover, high pre-existing Ad5 immunity may also have a negative impact on the persistence of the vaccine-elicited immune responses", said Professor Feng-Cai Zhu from Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China who led the study. According to the World Health Organization, it is important to evaluate as many vaccines as possible as we can not predict how many will turn out to be viable.

Earlier this month, Moderna announced promising results from its mRNA-1273 vaccine, originally developed to treat SARS, and announced phase 2 trials to begin in July.

Mr Johnson also noted the Nucleus Network "own 150 of the total 250 dedicated Phase 1 beds available in Australia" and were "supported by our workforce of over 400 specialists".

Researchers say that "vaccines are miracles and have a great way of protecting populations against these severe diseases".

The first phase, which will require around 100 volunteer participants, will be focused on measuring the vaccine's effect on the human body itself - essentially, whether there are any side effects that would make it unsafe.

In the third and final stage, thousands of volunteers will either take the vaccine or a placebo vaccine in order to test whether the group who took the real vaccine are protected against contracting COVID-19.

Novavax said it identified NVX-CoV2373 as its lead SARS-CoV-2 candidate following pre-clinical testing that demonstrated high immunogenicity and high levels of neutralising antibodies.

The $1 million grant will help researchers work with remaining vaccine manufacturing activities and then allow them to speed up the timeline for the vaccine to move into human trials.

Novavax has received $388 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, an organisation founded by Bill Gates.

On Monday, the company's CEO, Stanley Erck, said administering the vaccine in the first participants was a "significant achievement", adding the company would share results of the trial in July.

More than 100 vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2 are in development worldwide, with about 12 in human testing created to mainly evaluate safety. Still other vaccine candidates are more old-fashioned, made with the killed whole virus.

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