When the Maryland-based biotech firm Novavax announced its latest stunning trial results at the end of June, the response from the media was tepid at best. Yet, to my way of thinking, this vaccine, once approved by the FDA, may be what most of you who have been reluctant to take the mRNA or J&J COVID vaccines have been waiting for.
As The Washington Post reports, in 10 states, fewer than 35 percent of American adults have been vaccinated. Why?
An international study of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, published in May, found that among the most common online rumors were those alleging particular dangers of mRNA technology—that it leads, for example, to the creation of “genetically modified human beings.”
Based upon this and many, many other concerns, many in faith communities in America, especially Christians, have refused to take the mRNA vaccines.
Christians are also unlikely to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the fact that it was developed and produced using tissue cultures derived from aborted babies.
The Charlotte Lozier Institute, in its frequently updated, “Ethics Assessment of COVID-19 Vaccine Programs,” rates the J&J vaccine as “Unethical” (while rating the two available mRNA vaccines as “Ethically Uncontroversial.”)
Now comes Novavax, with superior efficacy, fewer side effects, no moral issues, using an established and trusted method of production, and it’s easier to store and distribute. What’s not to like? Well, maybe it’s the fact it takes two shots . . . but other than that?
Let me explain why this may be the vaccine that most Christians who have avoided the COVID vaccine will accept:
First, the effectiveness of Novavax, especially with the variants:
- 90.4% overall efficacy (primary endpoint)
- 100% protection against moderate & severe disease
- 93.2% efficacy against Variants of Interest/Concern
- 91% efficacy in “high-risk” populations
As an article in The Atlantic points out:
These two mRNA vaccines may have been the first to get results from Phase 3 clinical trials, but that’s because of superior trial management, not secret vaccine sauce.
For now, they are harder and more expensive to manufacture and distribute than traditional types of vaccines, and their side effects are more common and more severe.
The latest Novavax data confirm that it’s possible to achieve the same efficacy against COVID-19 with a more familiar technology that more people may be inclined to trust.
The mRNA vaccines delivered efficacy rates of 95 and 94 percent against the original coronavirus strain in Phase 3 trials, as compared with 96 percent for Novavax in its first trial, and now 90 percent against a mixture of variants.
Second, the way Novavax is produced. As The Atlantic explains:
In this context, the success of the Novavax vaccine should be A1 news. The recent results confirm that it has roughly the same efficacy as the two authorized mRNA vaccines, with the added benefit of being based on an older, more familiar science.
The protein-subunit approach used by Novavax was first implemented for the hepatitis B vaccine, which has been used in the U.S. since 1986.
The pertussis vaccine, which is required for almost all children in U.S. public schools, is also made this way.
Some of those people who have been wary of getting the mRNA vaccines may find Novavax more appealing.
Third, the side-effect profile of Novavax is very impressive, at least so far. Again, The Atlantic:
The Novavax vaccine also has a substantially lower rate of side effects than the authorized mRNA vaccines.
Based on the results of Novavax’s first efficacy trial in the U.K., side effects (including but not limited to fatigue) aren’t just less frequent; they’re milder too.
That’s a very big deal for people on hourly wages, who already bear a disproportionate risk of getting COVID-19, and who have been less likely to get vaccinated in part because of the risk of losing days of work to post-vaccine fever, pain, or malaise.
Side effects are a big barrier for COVID-vaccine acceptance.
The CDC reported on Monday that, according to a survey conducted in the spring, only about half of adults under the age of 40 have gotten the vaccine or definitely intend to do so, and that, among the rest, 56 percent say they are concerned about side effects.
Lower rates of adverse events are likely to be a bigger issue still for parents, when considering vaccination for their children.
As a result, The Atlantic makes a conclusion with which I think many current COVID vaccine avoiders might agree:
But here’s what we know today, based on information that we have right now:
Among several wonderful options, the more old-school vaccine from Novavax combines ease of manufacture with high efficacy and lower side effects.
For the moment, it’s the best COVID-19 vaccine we have.
At least once it’s approved and available.
This blog was accurate as of the day of posting. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus and the COVID vaccine develops, the information above may have changed since it was last updated. While I aim to keep all of my blogs on COVID and the COVID vaccine up to date, please visit online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.