Covovax shows high efficacy vs UK, South African variants
The Covovax COVID-19 vaccine has shown promising results from its clinical trials against two new coronavirus variants that emerged in several countries, one of them in the Philippines.
The combined efficacy of Covovax against the original SARS-CoV-2 and the B.1.1.7 variant was 89.3 percent, according to the local drug distributor, Faberco Life Sciences Inc.
Interim results of the vaccine’s Phase 3 trials conducted in the United Kingdom from Sept. 28 to Jan. 28 showed an 85.6 percent efficacy against the B.1.1.7 variant.
Meanwhile, the vaccine was found to be 60.1 percent effective against the B.1.351 variant that was first traced to South Africa.
Faberco said the vaccine was tested on 7,016 participants in the United Kingdom, of which only six people developed a mild to moderate infection, and on 4,400 participants in South Africa.
“[Efficacy] may not be as high as against the UK variant, but still we’re happy that the vaccine works. We could see that there could be a cross protection… against both the UK and the South African variants,” said Dr. Luningning Villa, medical director of Faberco.
The vaccine’s efficacy against the dominant form of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is at 95.6 percent high.
In the Philippines, the original SARS-CoV-2 remains prevalent, although health authorities have also been closely watching the B.1.1.7 since a local transmission of the UK variant was declared in January.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the UK variant had been detected in 70 countries, and the South Africa variant in 30 countries.
Covovax was developed by biotechnology company Novavax of Maryland and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
In an online interview, Villa said Faberco expected to seal a supply deal with the Philippine government “in a few days” for 30 million doses that could be available in the third quarter.
Faberco was also talking to some local governments, while its local partner, Unilab Inc., had ongoing talks with private companies.
The vaccine costs less than P1,000 per dose, Villa said.
Covovax uses the recombinant technology that is also used for vaccines against Hepatitis B, and an adjuvant to basically introduce a “custom-made” spike protein.
This prompts an early recognition of the spike protein and triggers the immune system when the actual SARS-CoV-2 enters the body.
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