© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vials labeled "COVID-19 / Coronavirus Vaccine / Injection Only" and a medical syringe are seen in this image on October 31, 2020 in front of a Novavax logo displayed. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Novavax (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc's COVID-19 vaccine had 43% effectiveness against infections caused by the South African variant in a group that included people with and without HIV, and 51% in people who had HIV were negative. This emerges from a new analysis released on Wednesday.
The post-hoc analysis was published in the New England Journal of Medicine along with full data from the company's study in South Africa, which included nearly 2,700 volunteers not previously infected with the coronavirus.
The results, announced in January, showed 49.4% effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 in the South African study that looked at a mixture of the original virus and the South African variant, and 60.1% among those who were HIV negative were.
The study also showed that previous infection with a previous version of the virus did not reduce the risk of COVID-19 caused by the South African variant in people with placebo shots.
The average age of the subjects was 32 years. Most of the cases were mild to moderate.
The study did not provide data on the effectiveness of the Novavax vaccine in preventing serious illness or hospitalization, "one of the most important factors in determining the benefit of a vaccine," said Dr. Peter English, a retired communicable disease control advisor and former chairman of the British Medical Association's Public Health Medicine Committee.
"Most vaccines are less effective at preventing minor illnesses than they are at preventing major illnesses. Therefore, this vaccine could prove to be much more effective at preventing hospital admissions and death – we just don't know yet," said English, who was not involved in the study.
The main objective of the study was to test the vaccine's performance in HIV-negative as well as HIV-positive and medically stable individuals. The study excluded other volunteers who were taking drugs to suppress the immune system or those with autoimmune diseases that could make the vaccine less effective. Among those assessed, 94% were HIV negative and 6% were HIV positive.
Novavax has announced that it will manufacture new versions of its vaccine to protect against emerging virus variants. The company is expected to release data from its ongoing late-stage study in the US and Mexico in the second quarter.
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