Novavax approval won't boost vaccination rate, experts say

Though Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine candidate could appeal to those wary of mRNA-based vaccines, don't expect it to spur that much change, health experts told CNBC July 15. 

The FDA authorized Novavax's vaccine candidate for emergency use July 13 after an independent panel overwhelmingly voted to OK it for adults. The latecomer is the first protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, but this difference isn't expected to make waves. 

"I don't think a shot like Novavax with well-worn technology is suddenly going to convince unvaccinated people to say, 'Now, I want to get a vaccine, now I believe a vaccine will keep me out of the hospital and ICU,'" Paul Offit, MD, director of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Vaccine Education Center, told CNBC

Since April, when vaccination rates were about 500,000 per day, rates have been declining. The most recent weekly average of vaccinations was about 150,000 a day. 

About a third of the population isn't fully vaccinated, and more than 20 percent of Americans hadn't received one dose as of July 13. Health experts point to vaccine wariness, which has plagued efforts at curbing the pandemic for years.

"Providing rational explanations and alternatives like Novavax that address some concerns doesn't necessarily get you past the fact that there's just an aversion to being vaccinated," Robert Schooley, MD, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health, told CNBC

In the last step to approval, on July 19 the CDC will review Novavax's vaccine data, which has a 90 percent efficacy rate.


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