ATLANTA — For the first time since the pandemic began, an old-fashioned, traditional, flu-shot-type of vaccine may soon be available in the U.S. to fight COVID.
It’s the Novavax vaccine, which is already in use around the world.
The FDA just approved Novavax, for emergency use in adults, and next week the CDC in Atlanta will consider it.
And what Novavax is not is what sets it apart.
In fact, there is nothing new about what makes Novavax work against COVID infection.
Anyone who’s had a flu shot, or a shot against chicken pox or shingles, for example, automatically understands what Novavax is, and what it is not.
Novavax is not another mRNA vaccine like Pfizer and Moderna.
What it is, is a relatively simple, protein-based vaccine.
Novavax contains an inactive protein that your body thinks is coronavirus.
So the two-shot dose fools your system into producing anti-bodies that protect you, exactly like flu shots do against the flu.
“It’s a much more traditional vaccine,” said Dr. Sujatha Reddy, 11Alive’s medical correspondent. “The technology for this has been around for decades.”
And according to the trials, Novavax is 90 percent effective in preventing serious COVID illness.
As it is, about one-fourth of Americans have still not received a COVID vaccine --tens of millions of people.
And part of the reluctance from the beginning has been distrust of the mRNA technology of Pfizer and Moderna.
As one reluctant metro Atlantan, Destiny Britt, told 11Alive in July, 2021: “I just need to make sure that it’s been around for some time, where I know specifically what the side effects are.”
“For people who have stated that their concern is they don't want to receive a vaccine with new messenger RNA technology, it's now time to pay the piper,” said Dr. Jayne Morgan, Executive Director of the COVID Task Force at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. “It is a protein-based vaccine, the same as our previous influenza vaccines. Here’s your opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. You didn't like the messenger RNA vaccine. Novavax is here on the scene. We'd like to see you get vaccinated. This is the influenza technology that you stated was what you needed to feel comfortable.”
Novavax is not yet approved as a booster for people who have already had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
“The company that makes Novavax did say that they submitted data looking at using Novavax as a booster for Pfizer and Moderna,” Dr. Reddy said. "So it’s possible, once the data is analyzed, we may see that you can mix and match. But right now it's too early to say.”
The U.S. has ordered, initially, more than three million doses of Novavax, and the shipments are now on standby for possible CDC approval as soon as next week.