After a Rocky Start, Novavax Vaccine Could Be Here by Summer

After a Rocky Start, Novavax Vaccine Could Be Here by Summer

Even with two other vaccines authorized, Novavax is having no trouble recruiting volunteers for its U.S. trial. If all goes well, the U.S. could see 110 million doses in June.

As recently as December, the vaccine maker Novavax appeared to once again be on the brink of failure.

Manufacturing troubles had forced the little-known Maryland company, which in its 34-year history had never brought a vaccine to market, to delay the U.S. clinical trial of its experimental Covid-19 inoculation, jeopardizing its $1.6 billion contract with the federal government. And two Covid-19 vaccines made by its competitors were already shipping around the country, leaving some to wonder whether Novavax would ever catch up.

But the picture has significantly improved. The company announced last week that its vaccine showed robust protection in a large British trial and also worked, although not nearly as well, in a smaller study in South Africa against a contagious new variant.

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After a Rocky Start, Novavax Vaccine Could Be Here by Summer

And the scarcity of the two vaccines authorized in the United States, made by Moderna and Pfizer, seems to have made it easier for Novavax to recruit volunteers in its trial here. That speedy enrollment has put the company on track to have results this spring, with possible government authorization as early as April. If all goes right — and nothing is guaranteed — that would mean an influx of 110 million vaccine doses, enough for 55 million Americans at two doses each, by the end of June.

The potential success of Novavax’s candidate carries global implications. Unlike Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shots, the Novavax vaccine can be stored and shipped at normal refrigeration temperatures. The company is setting up plants around the world to produce up to 2 billion doses per year.

As contagious variants circle the globe, more vaccines are desperately needed.

“I would say, the more the merrier at this point,” said Saad Omer, a vaccine expert at Yale University.

Novavax has signed up more than 20,000 people so far in its late-stage trial in the United States and Mexico, two-thirds of its goal of 30,000 participants. If it keeps enrolling volunteers at the same pace, it will complete recruitment more quickly than the Pfizer and Moderna trials did last year.