Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Novavax not approved for use ‘anywhere in the world at the moment’

The makers of Novavax have formally applied for the Covid vaccine to be used in New Zealand.

It has submitted an application to have its vaccine receive provisional approval in this country.

“We remain laser-focused on delivering our vaccine, which is built on a proven, well-understood vaccine platform, and thank the Government of New Zealand for their ongoing partnership and confidence in our COVID-19 vaccine program,” said the company’s president and chief executive Stanley C. Erck.

However director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield noted today that there are yet to be any studies completed on the use of Novavax “anywhere in the world at the moment” – and Pfizer will likely be what New Zealand will continue to use.

Bloomfield was quizzed by Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB about whether Novavax would cure New Zealand’s “anti-vax problem”.

Bloomfield said he wasn’t sure.

“Some people really do have a worry about an mRNA vaccine and they would like an alternative.

“We have already approved two alternatives, Johnson and Johnson and Astra Zeneca.”

A third was also being considered, he said

However, it wasn’t Novavax as that was a “long way down the track”.

A final decision would be made in the next few weeks.

As for getting in supplies of Novavax, Bloomfield said there had been discussion around it but it was yet to be approved “anywhere in the world at the moment”.

When put to him Indonesia were using it, Bloomfield said “that maybe so, but from my understand of their studies they still haven’t quite finished their studies”.

Whether NZ would use Novavax, he said “we’ll see”.

However, Pfizer was being used by hundreds of millions of people around the world and was a “very efficient vaccine” and the only studies that have looked at boosters were with the Pfizer vaccine, he said, “so that’s the direction we’ll go”.

Bloomfield said of the newly approved 4.7 million new Pfizer jabs, the “vast majority” will be available for booster shots, but also for people who become eligible next year and others who have yet to have the jab.

Asked when, Bloomfield said while they would issue them next year the process around approvals and Cabinet decisions will happen this year, “but it will be making sure we’re good to go will be the key thing”.

Discussions on the topic have occurred “almost daily” and they had already started the planning for the rollout of the 5 to 11 age group.

The plan now was working with Pfizer on the delivery of the new chunk of doses which will arrive “right through next year”.

He said there were plenty of doses still available until they arrived – around 3 million – which would be used to begin the booster phase “well this side of Christmas, and I would imagine before the end of November”.

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Asked if there had been a problem, Bloomfield said it was a matter of following “proper process” around booster shots.

“We have advice from our technical advisory group and that’s being finalised today and then we get a decision from ministers and then we’re good to go.”

Bloomfield said the trials they had done showed the best median time for booster shots was around 11 months, however they would probably issue them from as soon as six months and up to 12 months.

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