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New COVID-19 vaccine option Novavax hopes to win over FDA, Americans

Researchers at the UW Medicine Retrovirology Lab at Harborview Medical Center work on samples from the Novavax phase 3 Covid-19 clinical vaccine trials on February 12, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images) GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Americans may soon get a new COVID-19 vaccine option -- shots made with a more tried-and-true technology than today’s versions.

The big question: Why should they care?After long delays, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide within weeks whether to authorize Novavax's vaccine. It’s late in the pandemic for a new choice, with about three-quarters of U.S.

adults already vaccinated.But the company is hoping to find a niche among some of the unvaccinated millions who might agree to a more traditional kind of shot -- a protein vaccine — and also to become a top choice for boosters, regardless of which type people got first. Only about half of vaccinated adults have gotten a booster.The Novavax vaccine already is used in parts of Europe and multiple other countries, but FDA clearance is a key hurdle.

And health experts are closely watching to see if a new tool offers advantages, either in enticing vaccine holdouts or maybe even offering somewhat broader immunity.Melissa Marx, an assistant professor and epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stressed the importance of vaccines for all ages, including kids."What I’ve seen of the Novavax data so far is it’s a really impressive protein vaccine," said University of Pennsylvania immunologist E. John Wherry.The Novavax vaccine trains the body to fight the coronavirus by delivering copies of its outer coating, the spike protein.

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