At a time when the world is seeking protection from new variants of Covid-19, a top WHO scientist is optimistic about claims about the effectiveness of his vaccines Novavax and Johnson and Johnson after a trial in South Africa.
Speaking at the two-day World Summit on Immunization and Logistics, which began in Abu Dhabi on Monday, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said the latest studies of Novavax and Johnson & Johnson have shown promising clinical efficacy.
A big gain for India
With the Indian Medical Research Council and the Serum Institute of India conducting bridging phase II and -III tests for Covovax, a vaccine from the U.S. vaccine, India can get another vaccine against Covid-19. The enrollment of volunteers started last week in Pune.
“Novavax and J&J conducted trials in South Africa where a new variant was circulated in 1351. An impact on clinical efficacy was seen, which is believed to be good enough to provide protection against the new variant,” Swaminathan said.
However, she acknowledged that there is still limited data to conclude on efficacy against new strains.
“When the tests for the original virus took place, there were no variants. We now have three variants. We need epidemiological evidence to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine against the new strains, ”said Swaminathan.
Novavax President and CEO Stanley Erck said the vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373, tested on a newly emerging variant of the virus in South Africa, has shown efficacy against it.
“Our vaccine has been tested on these (new) variants. We are currently testing it in the lab. But we are able to switch to the production of vaccines for a new strain. We need to know for which vaccine to make protective protection. We are studying the data, “he said.
Earlier in March, Novavax said the vaccine candidate was tested in two ongoing phase 2 studies that began in August; a phase 2b study in South Africa that showed 48.65 percent efficacy compared to the emerging variant of escape.
The company also announced a complete analysis of its Phase 2b trial being held in South Africa, with an efficiency of 55.4 percent among HIV-negative trial participants in a region where the vast majority of cases are escape variant B1.351. During both trials, NVX-CoV2373 showed 100% protection against severe disease, including all hospitalization and death. Both studies achieved their statistical success criteria, the company said.
Notably, a recent analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has shown that Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 is effective in trials conducted in South Africa, where a new, more contagious variant dominates.
Covid gets up
India gave 246053 doses of the vaccine in 24 hours which ended on Monday at 11am, bringing the total number of inoculations to over 6.05 crore across the country.
The country has reported 68,020 new cases in the last 24 hours. The health ministry said 84.5 per cent of new cases were reported from eight states, with Maharashtra recording the highest daily number of new cases at 40,414. The number of active cases in the country reached 5,21,808, and deaths were 1.61,843 on March 29 at 8 p.m.