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By Bill Hoagland
There are lots of folks who have not been vaccinated for a variety of reasons, but soon there will be another COVID 19 vaccine available that may be more appealing to those who are not vaccinated. That’s because this vaccine was created via a methodology that has been in existence for more than 30 years. I am referring to the “Novavax” vaccine, which is a protein-based vaccine instead of a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) or a vector-based vaccine (Johnson and Johnson and Astrozenca). This vaccine, unlike the others, utilizes a spike protein nanoparticle from the COVID 19 virus in the production process and that is a major, important distinction.
Novavax was developed here in the US. The company producing this vaccine will soon be applying to the FDA for an emergency permit for use in the US by the end of this year. This vaccine has undergone all three phases of preliminary testing both here and in England and the results suggest it may be an improvement over the earlier vaccines because it appears to offer better protection against variants and because it appears to reduce the seriousness of COVID19 for those who still contract the disease after vaccination.
The production process for Novavax is both curious and complicated. It is curious because the process includes the use of moth cells and bark from a “soap tree” in creating this protein-based vaccine. Yes, you read that right. No, the moth cells and the tree bark are not injected into the patient. But if you do want a better understanding of how Novavax is created, and why moth cells and tree bark are necessary, there are excellent explanations on YouTube.
The ultimate issue is whether the Phase Three tests confirm that this vaccine is safe and effective.
The clinical Phase Three tests in England involved 15,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 84, with an efficacy rate of 89.3%. The placebo group developed 56 cases of COVID and those receiving the vaccine only had two cases. In the US and Mexico Phase Three tests, there were 30,000 participants, with 10,000 receiving the placebo and 20,000 receiving the vaccine. 63 persons receiving the placebo developed COVID and only 14 of the persons receiving the vaccine developed COVID. This, I am told, translates to an efficacy rate of 90.4 %. The good news is that as to the 14 who got COVID after receiving the vaccine, none had severe or even moderate symptoms. The other good news is that this vaccine does not require special refrigeration and can be administered immediately upon receipt from the supplier, two features that would facilitate world wide distribution.
According to Novavax,Inc., it is anticipated that this vaccine will ultimately be used more so in foreign countries than in the US. And this raises an issue that I have never fully understood: how can we realistically achieve herd immunity if much of the world outside the US is not vaccinated? Maybe this vaccine will be the solution. Let’s hope so.
– Bill Hoagland has practiced law in Alton for more than 50 years, but he has spent more than 70 years hunting, fishing and generally being in the great outdoors. His wife, Annie, shares his love of the outdoor life. Much of their spare time is spent on their farm in Calhoun County. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.