Phase 3 trials of the Novavax vaccine have been completed. If approved, it would be the fourth coronavirus vaccine available in the UK.


But how effective is it, and how does it work? Here is everything you need to know about the Novavax coronavirus vaccine.

Is the Novavax coronavirus vaccine ready?

Not yet. Phase 3 trials, which are the final stage of tests, have been completed. Next, the jab has to be approved by the UK’s medicine regulator MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) before it can be administered.

If approved, the Novavax vaccine could be available in the second half of 2021.

Graphic showing the phases of vaccine development. Phase 3 is mass testing, and happens alongside large-scale production © PA Graphics
© PA Graphics

How effective is the Novavax coronavirus vaccine?

Phase 3 trials have shown that the vaccine is overall 89 per cent effective at providing protection against COVID-19.

It appears to be 96 per cent effective against the original strains of coronavirus, and is also 86 per cent effective against the UK variant.

It is unclear how effectual the jab is on coronavirus variants, such as the strains identified in Brazil.

However, one branch of tests was carried out in South Africa, where most cases were the South African variant. These tests showed that the jab was 60 per cent effective in preventing mild, moderate and severe coronavirus among those without HIV. Including the HIV positive participants, whose immune systems are compromised, overall the protection was just over 49 per cent.

Clinical data for early phases of the trial suggested the vaccine triggers an immune response greater than that in patients who have recovered from the disease.

How many doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine will the UK get?

The UK has secured 60 million doses of the vaccine.

How does the Novavax coronavirus vaccine work?

The Novavax jab is a protein adjuvant vaccine. As with other types, it teaches your immune system to recognise the spike proteins on SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Whereas mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer vaccine, cause your body to create the spike proteins, the Novavax vaccine injects them into your body directly.

The spikes on their own can't cause COVID-19: they are just the part of the virus that allows it to latch onto your cells.

Your white blood cells attack the spikes, and then retain a 'memory' that will prepare your immune system in case of a real infection.

Read more about the coronavirus vaccines:



Sara RigbyOnline staff writer, BBC Science Focus

Sara is the online staff writer at BBC Science Focus. She has an MPhys in mathematical physics and loves all things space, dinosaurs and dogs.