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Australia When is the Novavax vaccine coming to Australia? Will it be used for booster shots?

23:06  12 october  2021
23:06  12 october  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Australia's vaccination rate is galloping towards 85 per cent, and more than six in 10 Australians aged over 16 have received both doses of vaccine.

And so far it's been done without the 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine that Australia purchased last year.

But the government is pressing ahead with the contract and expects Novavax doses to start arriving in the near future.

So...

When is Novavax coming to Australia?

The federal government has said it expects Novavax to begin arriving in Australia in November.

But before it starts being used it will have to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which currently lists the vaccine as "under evaluation".

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Australia's expert vaccine advisory group ATAGI would then advise the government on when and how the vaccines should be used.

Novavax was initially set to arrive in Australia in the middle of this year, but manufacturing delays and setbacks have slowed the company's progress.

In June, the government announced it was no longer factoring Novavax into this year's rollout and dropped it from vaccine supply horizons.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 82.8 per cent of Australians over 16 had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 63.4 per cent had received both doses.

That means a large majority of Australia's won't receive Novavax as their primary vaccine, but Mr Hunt has indicated Novavax could play a large role in a booster shot program, the details of which are yet to be finalised.

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Health authorities have repeatedly warned against waiting for a particular vaccine, as unvaccinated people are far more likely to die of COVID-19.

Is the Novavax vaccine different from other vaccines?

Novavax works differently from mRNA (like Pfizer and Moderna) or viral vector (like AstraZeneca) vaccines.

It delivers a harmless version of the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, along with other chemicals to heighten your body's immune response.

Once the injection is delivered, your immune system learns how to fight the spike protein, which it can then do when confronted with the virus.

Novavax is called a subunit vaccine, because it uses harmless fragments of the virus to trigger an immune response.

It's been described as a more "traditional" vaccine than mRNA or viral vector vaccines, which teach your body to create its own harmless spike proteins, which then trigger the immune response.

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But like those other vaccines, recipients need two doses to be fully protected.

Is Novavax effective? What are the side effects?

A phase 3 trial using participants in the US and Mexico recorded an efficacy of 90.4 per cent against illness and 100 per cent protection against severe illness.

Mild, short-term side effects were noted in trial participants who received the vaccine, including tenderness at the injection site, headache, aches and pains and fatigue.

The side effects were more common after the second dose of the Novavax vaccine.

The trial also monitored for very rare side effects that have been linked to a tiny number of recipients of other vaccines, notably thrombosis with thrombocytopenia and myocarditis.

The study found no incidence of either condition in the 30,000 trial participants.

Is Novavax approved anywhere in the world?

The vaccine isn't currently distributed anywhere in the world.

The UK treats people who have received the Novavax vaccine as part of a clinical trial as fully vaccinated, however no other countries recognise it.

As a result, the UK is also going to give those trial participants two doses of the Pfiizer vaccine so they can travel and be recognised as vaccinated overseas.

Novavax has applied to the World Health Organisation for emergency listing, which would allow it to begin distributing vaccines to poorer countries via the COVAX facility.

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This is interesting!