By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer of Science & Technology
The University of Missouri School of Medicine’s Clinical Research Center is taking part in the Phase 3 clinical trial for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 100 participants. The center is one of 115 sites enrolling 30,000 participants in the U.S and Mexico.
“This is certainly the fastest enrollment I’ve ever been involved with. Everybody worked together and worked very hard to get this done, and so I’m proud of the way our team worked,” said Taylor Nelson, DO, an infectious disease physician for MU Health Care.
“We feel like that’s really making a difference. And one day, we might see Novavax as a vaccine used out in the general community, and we’ll know that we played a part in that,” said Tami Day, RN, the Clinical Research Center’s clinical manager.
Maryland-based biotechnology company Novavax, Inc. developed the COVID-19 vaccine. Data from the Novavax Phase 3 clinical trial in the U.K. shows 96% efficacy. In that trial, efficacy against the U.K. variant was 86%.
The Novavax vaccine is given in two doses, 21 days apart. Two-thirds of trial participants receive the vaccine, one-third receive a placebo.
“The success of the clinical trial is based, number one, on the people that are willing to do it from the community. They are willing to participate in a clinical trial and they are, you know, they want to advance the science and contribute to the science, and be part of this big thing, to be able to say, ‘We’ve been part of this, and with our efforts, we were able to stop COVID-19,’” said Dima Dandachi, MD, principal investigator and assistant professor at the MU School of Medicine.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a protein-based vaccine made from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. It uses a different technology than vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The vaccine would not require freezing temperatures, which would make it easier to transport and store.
“It does not have this requirement, which makes it much easier logistically to distribute, whether in areas that are hard to reach in the U.S., rural areas, and as well as developing countries, because these refrigerators, these are not widely available,” said Dr. Dandachi.