UNC Health enrolling kids in Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trial


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Another drug maker is working on a COVID-19 vaccine for kids. Novavax is recruiting children for clinical trials before their vaccine candidate has been approved for adults.

There are more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases in schools across the state. Getting a vaccine to kids in all schools is seen as a way to not only protect students, but also those around them.

“We one, stop transmitting in our community and also are able to prevent severe illness in that small number of children who would otherwise have it,” said Dr. Cindy Gay, principal investigator of UNC’s Novavax clinical trial site and associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UNC School of Medicine.

Novavax is recruiting children 12 to 17 to take part in its study. Moderna and Pfizer are both studying vaccines in children as well. No vaccine is available for children under 16 yet.

The Novavax vaccine is unique from the others currently in use. Its technology injects proteins directly into the body to evoke an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, however, deliver a set of instructions to the body to teach it how to fight a COVID-19 infection.

The Novavax vaccine would not have to be stored in ultra-cold freezers. That would make it easier to roll out in rural communities here or abroad.

See reported outbreaks for school settings below:

“This would be a dramatic change and allow children across the globe to go back to school, to not get severely ill, to not pass on COVID to individuals in their community,” Gay said.

Enrolling in the study

Children in the study would receive two doses of the vaccine. They’ll be involved in follow-up calls and in-person visits for two years.

“I think an additional vaccine would just mean more people will get a vaccine, they’ll get it sooner,” Gay said.

If all goes well, the vaccine could be approved around fall, at the earliest.

Ultimately, Gay said volunteering for this study will help the greater good.

“It would be really a tremendous extra tool in our global fight to get the pandemic under control,” she said.

If you are interested in participating in the study:

Novavax clinical trial results so far

While the Novavax vaccine is not approved for use anywhere, there are some preliminary data for trials abroad.

Novavax has clinical trials underway across the globe. Its Phase 3 study in the UK researchers found a 90-percent efficacy rate. Looking more closely, it has a 96-percent efficacy rate against the original strain. It was 86-percent effective in fighting the UK strain.

In its South Africa study, Novavax reported its vaccine was 60-percent effective in preventing mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19 infection.

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