On Tuesday, a powerful scientific panel will meet to discuss who should get the newly approved Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax, a Maryland-based pharmaceutical company that hopes its shot will appeal to Americans who have so far refused to get vaccinated.
Independent experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on their vaccine policy will meet at 10:00 AM ET (you can watch the meeting here). They are scheduled to vote about whether to approve the late Novavax vaccine, which is expected to play a limited role in the country’s immunization campaign, at least initially. Food and Drug Administration last week allowed it as primary immunization for adults, but not yet considered for booster.
Biden administration said Last week, the company purchased 3.2 million doses of the two-component vaccine, enough to fully vaccinate 1.6 million people in the United States. The vaccine is not yet available from pharmacies and other clinics that provide vaccinations in the United States. In announcing the purchase, the government said Novavax is expected to complete quality testing shortly, a necessary step before releasing doses.
If the CDC panel, called the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, votes to use the vaccine, the next step is for CDC director Dr. C. Rochelle Walensky to accept its recommendations, which usually happens quickly.
The vaccine was found to be highly protective against infection and severe illness from coronavirus in clinical trials, but these were conducted before the introduction of the Omicron variant, which drastically reduced the effectiveness of other licensed vaccines in preventing infections.
At a meeting on Tuesday, a CDC representative will review clinical trial data that links the vaccine to an increased but small risk of developing forms of heart inflammation known as myocarditis and pericarditis. In his review of Novavax dataFDA scientists identified six cases in about 40,000 volunteers.
The Novavax vaccine works differently than the three Covid vaccines previously authorized in the United States. it provokes an immune response with nanoparticles composed of proteins from the surface of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Similar protein-based vaccines have been used around the world for decades.
Novavax executives say this proven technology will make the vaccine more acceptable to those who are concerned that messenger RNA technology used by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in their vaccines, which account for the vast majority of vaccines in the United States.