Following the news that Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine shows 89.3 per cent while Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) demonstrated 66 per cent efficacy; Michael Breen, Director of Infectious Diseases and Ophthalmology and Philipp Rosenbaum, Senior Infectious Diseases Analyst at GlobalData offer their view:
“J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine will be the agent of choice for controlling the outbreak. An efficacy of 66 per cent is hardly the most efficacious regimen, however, the name of the game right now for most regions is simply ‘control the outbreak’ – and a single dose of J&J’s vaccine protects against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. Novavax’s candidate showed a more potent efficacy of 89.3 per cent with two doses, but potentially twice as many people can get vaccinated with J&J’s vaccine in the same time frame.
“Additionally, countries may adopt the policy being proposed by Germany: use more potent vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax in high-risk groups while vaccinating the general population with whatever vaccine is available to control overall spread. J&J is still testing a two-dose regimen, so it still has the potential to compete with the current leaders in terms of overall efficacy, but these data will only be available in a few months.
“Assuming similar regulatory processes as for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, GlobalData expects first authorisation of Novavax’s vaccine in the UK, while the EU’s approval process is slower. The FDA will likely wait for trial results from the US, where the Phase III trial started three months later than in the UK.
“However, as countries increasingly have weapons against COVID-19 in their armamentarium, increased scrutiny will be placed on the fifth, sixth, and later vaccines to enter the market. Eventually enough real-world data will be had to determine that one vaccine might be best for controlling the outbreak, while another vaccine offers the best overall protection in high-risk groups, and another is best for use in the general population. Considering vaccine distribution to countries with less developed healthcare infrastructure, a combination of acceptable efficacy, good protection in high-risk groups, and stability at lower temperatures, such as vaccines from AstraZeneca, Novavax, and J&J will be equally important.”