Novavax beats the specialists

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Novavax’s share price had drifted downwards since the release of topline data on its Covid-19 vaccine at the end of January, so investors will be gratified by the 8% jump in the stock this morning. This comes in spite of the fact that in the final analysis, released yesterday evening, efficacy figures have hardly shifted from the earlier reveal. In the UK trial the efficacy of NVX-CoV2373 against the local B117 variant was lower than against the original strain, according to Novavax’s post-hoc calculations. But the vaccine completely prevented severe disease; of the five severe cases in the placebo cohort four were attributed to B117. In the phase IIb South Africa study the efficacy figure was very slightly worse than the interim number, but again there were no severe cases among vaccine recipients. Here the company did not break out efficacy for the separate variants, saying that the “vast majority” of cases were caused by the B1351 strain circulating in South Africa. Novavax’s success puts it ahead of other, far more experienced, vaccine developers. One is Sanofi, which today started human trials of MRT5500, an mRNA candidate – a full year after the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

Novavax: final data
  UK trial (n=15,000) South Africa trial (n=2,905)
  NVX-CoV2373  Placebo NVX-CoV2373  Placebo
No of cases of Covid-19 10 96 51 96
No of cases of severe Covid-19 0 5 0 5
No of cases of Covid-19 in over-65s 1 9 - -
Efficacy against all strains of Covid-19 89.7% 48.6% (55.4% in HIV-negative) 
Efficacy against all strains 14 days after one dose  83.4% 42.7%
Efficacy against original Covid-19 strain 96.4%* -
Efficacy against local variant 86.3%* -
*Calculated post-hoc by Novavax. Source: company release.

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