Positive results of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine published in New England Journal of Medicine

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Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Promising early-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Novavax have been published in a major peer-reviewed medical journal, an important phase in the approval process.

Novavax has said its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate produced immune responses greater than that found in COVID-19 convalescent serum and induced T cell responses during a randomized, placebo-controlled, early-phase trial that started in May.

The research was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine for review in the scientific community.

Novavax first revealed the results last month and has since announced plans to proceed with larger-scale Phase 2 studies to determine the vaccine's efficacy against COVID-19.

"The rapid publication of Phase 1 results from our trial in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal reflects both the importance of the data and the urgent need for an effective vaccine to slow the COVID-19 pandemic," Dr. Gregory Glenn, the company's president of research and development, said in a statement Wednesday.

Novavax said the initial trial of 131 healthy adults in Australia showed NVX-CoV2373 was well-tolerated and adverse side effects were generally mild.

All subjects in a group that received smaller amounts of the vaccine developed neutralizing antibodies against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 after two doses administered a month apart, the study found.

NVX-CoV2373 is one of several "protein subunit" COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world. These types of vaccines don't contain any live pathogens and instead use smaller pieces, or subunits, of the virus to induce a protective immune response. They are generally considered safer than "whole pathogen" vaccines and can be manufactured more quickly, but they usually elicit weaker responses and may require an "adjuvant" to boost their effectiveness.

Novavax said this week it's reached an agreement to supply the Canadian government with as many as 76 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 should it be approved by regulators.

A number of other potential coronavirus vaccines are also in various stages of development. Click here for our COVID-19 vaccine tracker.

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