Novavax says COVID vaccine 89% effective in UK, less in South Africa

Novavax says COVID vaccine 89% effective in UK, less in South Africa

Shots showed 60% efficacy in African nation where new variant is prevalent

CHICAGO (Reuters) — Novavax said on Thursday its coronavirus vaccine was 89.3% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a trial conducted in the United Kingdom, and was nearly as effective in protecting against the more highly contagious variant first discovered in the UK, according to a preliminary analysis.

A mid-stage trial of the vaccine in South Africa, where a troubling new variant of the virus is common, showed 60% effectiveness among people who did not have HIV.

Novavax shares surged 34% in after hours trading following release of the trial results on the same day the United States reported its first cases of the South African variant.

Novavax is already stockpiling vaccine at six operating manufacturing locations, and said it expects a total of eight plants in seven countries to produce at the rate of 2 billion doses per year, including from the Serum Institute of India.

The company on a conference call noted that this was interim data and executives said they expect it will be two to three months before they are ready to apply for authorization with regulators.