51 million doses of the long awaited Novavax Covid vaccine due for Australia have been delayed until 2022.
Originally, the government released a statement that Novavax would be ready for distribution in Australia in the first half of 2021 with enough doses purchased by the Australian government to cover the entire adult population.
Novavax is considered to be the back-up plan for Australia’s vaccine roll-out.
“We’ve always thought of Novavax as the backup if there were an issue with the first three vaccines for this year, and as a foundation stone and platform for the booster program next year,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt.
The American company manufactures its doses in various European locations and is one of the nine vaccines supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Novavax has been shown in studies to have a particularly high (90%) rate of effectiveness against all variants of Covid.
Side effects for the Novavax are considered to be mild, with no reports of the deadly blood clot condition TTS or heart damage.
In January 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) gave provisional determination to Biocelect (on behalf of Novavax), making the vaccine eligible or provisional registration.
Moderna and Novavax both remain under evaluation while Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca have full provisional approval.
Novavax is a protein vaccine, which sets it aside from the mRNA and viral vectors.
It uses lab grown copies of the spike protein to let the immune system recognise future attacks, which makes it similar to most traditional vaccines. Novavax does not instruct the body to make the spike protein like mRNA vaccines.
Australia’s first human trials of Novavax were held in Melbourne on May 26, 2020 with 130 volunteers. The vaccine is considered stable at normal refrigerated temperatures and easier to transport than some of its competitors.
The delay has partially been caused by a global shortage of plastic growbags, with some pharmaceutical companies reporting 12 month wait times. The companies involved in producing the vital equipment required for vaccine manufacturers have expanded their factories to meet demand.
The government appears focused on unloading its massive storehouse of Pfizer as a priority.
Novavax plans to supply 1.1 billion doses to developing countries in 2021.
Australia has five separate vaccine agreements in play representing 195 million doses worth $5 billion dollars.