Published: 29 January 2021
Researchers in the Vaccine Institute at St George’s, University of London and St George's Hospital today celebrate the success of vaccine trials they coordinated as Novavax publishes positive data from the UK phase 3 study of its Covid-19 vaccine, showing it to be 89.3% effective in preventing coronavirus in participants.
The UK phase III trial for the vaccine was led by Professor Paul Heath, director of the Vaccine Institute at St George’s. The team at the Vaccine Institute have vaccinated more than 1,100 volunteers across trials assessing the Novavax, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Imperial vaccine candidates.
The Novavax study was conducted during the period the new Covid-19 variant was first observed in Kent and began to circulate widely, with the results showing it was effective against the new variant.
The UK has secured 60 million doses of Novavax’s vaccine to be delivered in the second half of this year, if approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who will assess whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
Professor Heath said: “These are enormously exciting findings and show that this is a highly effective and safe Covid-19 vaccine – importantly it also shows that this is a vaccine that is effective against the UK variant that has spread so quickly. This wonderful news is a tribute to the over 15,000 volunteers in our trial, to the dedication of the UK investigators and to the huge support of the NIHR.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “This is positive news and, if approved by the medicines regulator, the Novavax vaccine will be a significant boost to our vaccination programme and another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus.
“I’m proud the UK is at the forefront of another medical breakthrough and I want to thank the brilliant scientists and researchers, as well as the tens of thousands of selfless volunteers who took park in clinical trials.
“The NHS stands ready to roll this vaccine out as quickly as possible to those most at risk if it is authorised.”
Novavax’s candidate differs from those currently being used in the UK, combining an engineered protein from the virus that causes Covid-19 with a plant-based ingredient to help generate a stronger immune response. Having a diverse portfolio of vaccines increases the chances of ensuring there is a vaccine available for everyone across the UK.
The data published come from more than 15,000 people who were recruited through the National Institute of Health Research vaccine registry, which was launched in July 2020 to support the UK’s efforts to deliver vaccines for COVID-19. Nearly 4,000 people in the study were over the age of 65.
The Covid-19 vaccine trials extend a portfolio of research at St George’s to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The University has launched a Coronavirus Action Fund to raise money for vital research into the pandemic and is actively seeking support for a broad research programme involving all parts of the University.