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Another COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Begins Final Clinical Trials

TUESDAY, Dec. 29, 2020 -- Vaccine maker Novavax, along with federal health researchers, announced Monday that a phase 3 trial will begin on the safety and effectiveness of another COVID-19 vaccine -- the fifth shot to reach this final stage of development.

"We've come this far, this fast, but we need to get to the finish line," Francis Collins, M.D., director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.

Novavax will enroll 30,000 people from 115 testing sites across the United States and Mexico, and testing is already underway in Britain. The vaccine -- which right now is known as NVX-CoV2373 -- comes in two doses and is designed to enhance the body's immune response to the coronavirus spike protein.

The Novavax shot is somewhat different from approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, in that it manufactures its own antigens that mimic the coronavirus spike protein. However, these antigens "cannot replicate and cannot cause COVID-19," the NIH said in the statement.

If phase 3 trials prove the Novavax vaccine to be safe and effective, the shot has one big advantage over the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines: It needs only standard refrigeration, not the freezing or ultracold temperature storage required by the first two vaccines.

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Posted: December 2020

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