Novavax COVID vaccine highly effective — except against South African strain

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The vaccine candidate from Novavax is almost 90 percent effective against COVID-19 — but just under 50 percent effective against the new South African variant of the virus, the company announced Thursday.

A UK study found the Novavax vaccine was 89.3 percent effective in protecting test participants from developing COVID-19 symptoms, the company said in a press statement.

The good results came despite the new, highly transmittable coronavirus variant now circulating in the UK.

“These are spectacular results, and we are very pleased to have helped Novavax with the development of this vaccine,” said Stanley C. Erck, who heads the Maryland-based company.

“The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging.

But more preliminary results from a small, separate study in South Africa — where a different mutation of the coronavirus is wreaking havoc — showed the Novavax shot was only 49.4 percent effective, meaning just over half the test subjects got the jab and then still got sick.

Both the in-use Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been found to be more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19.

As of Thursday, New York has 22 cases of the new UK coronavirus strain. The first two cases of the South African strain in the US were just found in South Carolina, officials announced Thursday.

Modern has said it is developing a vaccine booster to fight off the strain first identified in South Africa.

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