‘I think its fantastic’: RI doctor involved in Novavax vaccine trial

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Another COVID-19 vaccine determined their shot is safe after running a trial across the United States and Mexico, including in Rhode Island.

A Maryland-based Biotech company Novavax reported Monday that it’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective.

Novavax ran a trial on nearly 30,000 people, including people in Southern New England that were recruited through Lifespan.

The Director of Clinical Trials at the Immunology Center with Lifespan and an Infectious Disease Physician at the Miriam Hospital Dr. Karen Tashima was a part of those trials.

“We enrolled about 135 people between January and February and those participants are still in the study and will continue to be a part of our study for the next two years,” Tashima explained.

She said the Novavax vaccine differs slightly from the others in use, because it delivers protein directly to the body and the shots are done three months apart.

“This is a protein based vaccine, so its actually protein that gets injected into the muscle, and there is a little bit of an extra helper molecule that helps the immune system see that protein and develop immunity against it,” Tashima said.

She said side effects they saw in the trials include muscle pain at the injection site, muscle aches and fever.

The company said they have committed to supplying 110 million doses to the United States over the next year, and a total of 1.1 billion doses to developing countries.

“The U.S. has already purchased enough vaccine for everyone in the U.S. to use,” Tashima said. “It may be something that other countries can use so it gives another option, and I think it’s fantastic.”

She said the vaccine is not only 90% effective against this virus, but may also help fight COVID-19 variants.

“During the study, we were already seeing variants here in the U.S., particularly the one from the U.K.,” Tashima added. “That allowed this study to test how well the vaccine worked against the variants that were in circulation in January and February and it looks really effective, especially the one that was the most common, the U.K. one.”

Novavax said it plans to seek authorization for the shots by the end of September.

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