“Encouraging” test results for Teesside-made Covid vaccine

Trials have shown the new Teesside-made coronavirus vaccine offers 100% protection against severe disease.

The Novavax vaccine, which is being made at Billingham-based Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, has also been shown to be effective against variants identified within the UK and South Africa.

The vaccine will offer total protection against death and serious illness from the original strain of coronavirus.

Results from the latest trials of vaccine carried out in the UK also show it was 86% effective in protecting against the more contagious variant first discovered in Kent.

The means it has a combined 90% effectiveness rate overall based on data from infections of both versions of the coronavirus.

Stanley Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax, said: “We are very encouraged by the data showing that NVX-CoV2373 not only provided complete protection against the most severe forms of disease, but also dramatically reduced mild and moderate disease across both trials.

“Importantly, both studies confirmed efficacy against the variant strains.

“With this data in hand, we are even more motivated to advance our vaccine as a potential weapon in the fight to end the suffering caused by covid-19.”

Around 800 staff work at the Billingham site, with up to 300 set to be involved in the production of the vaccine.

Novavax will join the Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines already approved to help protect as many people as possible against Covid-19.

The UK has secured 60 millions doses of the vaccine, which is yet to be authorized for emergency use but the company has said it plans to seek approval from UK regulators in April.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Novavax jab can be stored at between 2° and – 8°C, in a major boost for distribution and logistics bosses.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said: “Like all Teessiders I was incredibly proud that the Novavax vaccine was being manufactured by Fujifilm at Billingham. It’s great to see our local experts playing a leading role in the battle against Coronavirus.

“The results of Novavax tests are really encouraging, and I’d like to thank everyone who has played a role in developing and testing the vaccine. This is rigorous process and one that shows that Covid vaccines are being tested to extremely high standards.

“Vaccination is the route out of this pandemic and back to a more normal way of life. The vaccine will save lives and I’d urge everyone to get vaccinated when they are invited to do so.”