Novavax

Coronavirus Updates, Your Health | 12 days ago

Another COVID-19 Vaccine Hits the Market

Atrium Health was the only site in the region to participate in the clinical trial for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine to determine its safety and efficacy. In July 2022, the FDA, CDC and NCDHHS granted emergency use authorization for the vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. Dr. Christine Turley, vice chair of research at Atrium Health Levine Children's and lead physician investigator of Atrium Health's vaccine research program, who led the clinical trial for Novavax at Atrium Health, explains what people should know about this new vaccine.

Editor’s Note: This article is current as of August 1, 2022. 

Now in the third year of the pandemic, it has become clear that COVID-19 is here to stay. With the wide availability of home tests, it can be difficult to determine the exact number of positive cases in our community, but we do know we are continuing to see an increase. The three COVID-19 vaccines currently on the market (Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) continue to be effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19, including against the BA.5 variant. Now, a new vaccine is hitting the market and Atrium Health played a key role in testing its safety and effectiveness. The FDA, CDC and NCDHHS have granted emergency use authorization NVX-CoV2373, developed by U.S. company Novavax, Inc.

Dr. Christine Turley, vice chair of research at Atrium Health Levine Children’s and lead physician investigator of Atrium Health’s vaccine research program, “STRIVE for Healthier Futures,” led the clinical trial for the Novavax vaccine at Atrium Health. 

“The Novavax vaccine offers another option for adults to protect themselves against COVID-19,” Turley explains. “The vaccine is made in a more traditional manner, using protein-based technology, which is the same approach as other vaccines we use frequently in everyday medicine, like the Hepatitis B vaccine or HPV vaccine.”

It’s her hope that people who may have put off getting vaccinated for COVID-19 due to concerns about the newer technology used in mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, will be more willing to consider this new option. 

“We have been seeing more cases of COVID-19 again and I know everyone is tired of worrying about getting sick with this infection,” Turley says. “For anyone who has been waiting for a more traditional vaccine, this would be one to consider.”

Clinical studies that were sponsored by the National Institutes of Health for Novavax, including the trial at Atrium Health, showed that the vaccine was about 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness. Trial participants randomly received either the investigational vaccine or placebo in two doses, 21 days apart. Two-thirds of volunteers received the vaccine candidate and one-third received a saline-based placebo. Data continues to show that getting a vaccine helps protect people from severe COVID-19 infection and hospitalization. 

“We are so glad to have been able to be part of this project,” Turley says. “Our Charlotte community has been involved in this work, with hundreds of individuals participating in this study and we feel that gives us extra confidence in the results.” 

The Novavax vaccine has been authorized in 40 other countries, including England, Canada, and countries in the European Union. Side effects are similar to the other COVID-19 vaccines, including arm soreness and pain. 

“There are rare reports of heart problems like those seen with other COVID vaccines,” Turley says. “These same types of heart problems also occur with COVID-19 infections, but more commonly, and more severely with the infection. Overall, the risks are very low with the Novavax vaccine.”

Atrium Health announced in January 2021 that it would serve as the only site in the region offering the Novavax vaccine clinical trial. Atrium Health’s vaccine research program, “STRIVE for Healthier Futures,” had oversight of the enrollment and management of the clinical trial. STRIVE, which stands for strategic research, innovation, vaccines and engagement, was initially developed with a goal of identifying one or more vaccines that prevent COVID-19 and will reduce its spread among the population.

Since then, the STRIVE program has continued to grow. Atrium Health has worked with other new vaccines to protect against other infections, like the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and more types of Strep pneumonia, both of which cause serious infections in people from young infants all the way up to older individuals. Atrium Health was also part of testing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in young children.

“We are so pleased with how enthusiastic our community has been about participating in vaccine studies,” Turley says. “Many people have really embraced being part of science and helping to make vaccines that are safe and effective. Working together, we create hopeful, healthy futures!”

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, go to AtriumHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine.

For more information about the Novavax trial and/or Atrium Health’s COVID-19 research registry, call 833-451-1188, visit AtriumHealth.org/COVIDVACCINE or email STRIVEVaccineRegistry@atriumhealth.org.