Novavax launches human clinical trial on coronavirus vaccine in Australia

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Credit: Laura Kammermann

A U.S. biotechnology company began injecting a coronavirus vaccine candidate into people in Australia on Tuesday [May 26] with hopes of releasing a proven vaccine this year.

Novavax will inject 131 volunteers in the first phase of the trial testing the safety of the vaccine and looking for signs of its effectiveness, the company’s research chief Dr. Gregory Glenn said.

About a dozen experimental vaccines against the coronavirus are in early stages of testing or poised to start, mostly in China, the U.S. and Europe. It’s not clear that any will prove safe and effective.

Animal testing suggested the vaccine is effective in low doses. Novavax could manufacture at least 100 million doses this year and 1.5 billion in 2021, he said.

Related article:  Viewpoint: We can’t simply test our way out of the coronavirus pandemic

Most of the experimental vaccines in progress aim to train the immune system to recognize the “spike” protein that studs the coronavirus’ outer surface, priming the body to react if it was exposed to the real virus. …

Novavax adds another new kind to that list, what’s called a recombinant vaccine. Novavax used genetic engineering to grow harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein in giant vats of insect cells in a laboratory. Scientists extracted and purified the protein, and packaged it into virus-sized nanoparticles.

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