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Novavax vaccine shows 51% efficacy against South African variant, study finds

Stock Markets May 05, 2021 06:57PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Novavax logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) -Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine had efficacy of 51% against infections caused by the South African variant among people who were HIV negative, and 43% in a group that included people who were HIV positive, according to a new analysis published on Wednesday.

The variant, known as B.1.351, carries mutations that threaten the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, several studies have shown. Most vaccine makers, including Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), are testing versions of their vaccines to protect against emerging variants.

The Novavax post-hoc analysis was published in the New England Journal of Medicine along with full data from the company's trial in South Africa, which included nearly 2,700 volunteers who had not been previously infected with the coronavirus.

Results announced in January showed efficacy of 60.1% against symptomatic COVID-19 in the South African trial looking at a mixture of the original virus and the South African variant among those who were HIV-negative. Efficacy was 49.4% among a mixed group of HIV positive and HIV negative participants.

The study also showed that prior infection with an earlier version of the virus did not reduce the risk of COVID-19 caused by the South African variant among people who got placebo shots.

The average age of trial volunteers was 32. Most cases were mild-to-moderate.

The study did not provide data on efficacy of the Novavax vaccine in preventing severe disease or hospitalization, "one of the most important factors in determining the usefulness of a vaccine," said Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control and former chair of the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee.

"Most vaccines are less effective at preventing mild disease than they are at preventing severe disease; so this vaccine could turn out to be much more effective at preventing hospital admissions and deaths – we simply don’t know, yet," said English, who was not involved in the study.

The trial's main goals were to test how the vaccine performed in people who were HIV negative, as well as those who were HIV positive and medically stable. Among those evaluated, 94% were HIV negative and 6% were HIV positive.

John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York who was not involved in the study, said he is not surprised efficacy was lower among volunteers with HIV, a virus that attacks the immune system. Studying them in South Africa makes sense because they represent a significant proportion of the population there.

Novavax vaccine shows 51% efficacy against South African variant, study finds
 

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Comments (9)
Tamás Gergely
Tamás Gergely May 06, 2021 1:52AM ET
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“The 50% efficacy threshold set for COVID-19 vaccines is because COVID-19 was deemed such a severe disease, that if a vaccine is only 50% effective, it’s still worth using.” WHO Africa 26 February 2021
Georgie George
Georgie George May 05, 2021 7:46PM ET
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How about Africa work on their HIV pandemic first. They have so much AIDS there that the first sentence of this article had to separate out people with HIV from those without to make the study numbers look better. COVID-19 is all about fearmongering and giving more power to the government and its donors, it has nothing to do with public health. There are plenty of other ways that this about of resources and global disturbance could have reduced de.ath on this planet, such as targeting obesity (in the first world) and starvation (in the third world).
Billy Sim
Billy Sim May 05, 2021 7:32PM ET
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How about Africa work on their H/IV pandemic first. They have so much AI/DS there that the first sentence of this article had to separate out people with H/IV from those without to make the study numbers look better. CO/VID-19 is all about fearmongering and giving more power to the government and its donors, it has nothing to do with public health. There are plenty of other ways that this about of resources and global disturbance could have reduced de.ath on this planet, such as targeting obesity (in the first world) and starvation (in the third world).
Billy Eli
Billy Eli May 05, 2021 7:08PM ET
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The headline a few minutes ago said 43%, now they updated it to say 51%. You can even see comments below that cite the original number. Did 43% not pass the focus group so they bumped it up to 51% to lure more sheep into the trap?
Billy Eli
Billy Eli May 05, 2021 7:08PM ET
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Never mind, I see that they originally reported the number for people with HIV and then separated those people out. So people with fully functioning immune systems only respond 8% better than people with HIV. Pathetic. Now report the how well people's natural immune system works...
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 7:08PM ET
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exactly what I wanted to say. regardless, the media simply want to push more gullible people into this vaccine farce.
Georgie George
Georgie George May 05, 2021 7:08PM ET
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danny Levine  It's just a circle jurk between the government and big pharma. Why people like Bill Gates have been given a medial degree by the fa.ke news and they silence everybody who goes against the narrative under the buss or into the memory-hold 1984 style. These people like Fauci have been wrong and flip flopped on every single thing since the start. They have no clue what they are doing. We would have been better off having not even had the government announce there was a virus going around, and probably not even have noticed.
Georgie George
Georgie George May 05, 2021 7:08PM ET
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danny Levine  And sorry for the typos, could not figure out what words they were censoring and blocking the post for/
Juan San
Juan San May 05, 2021 6:43PM ET
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The vaccines seem to be doing nothing when given to low risk individuals except helping speed up the amount of resistant strains. Hard to take the government seriously when you have Biden also saying that reducing nicotine in cigarettes will result in people smoking less cigarettes.
Juan San
Juan San May 05, 2021 6:43PM ET
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I take that back, they do seem to be giving plenty of adverse reactions.
Juan San
Juan San May 05, 2021 6:42PM ET
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I'll take my chance with a virus with a 99.9% survival rate, over an experimental vaccine. Anybody who wants a vaccine is free to use their body for the public health experiment on government/media fearmongering.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 5:59PM ET
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chances of vaccine defeating covid=43%. chances of your immune system defeating covid=99.8%. make your choice
CHAD TENDIES
CHAD TENDIES May 05, 2021 5:29PM ET
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That is terrible
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 5:10PM ET
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lol fail
 
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