St George’s was the lead UK site for the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trial which today, Friday 29 January, published data showing the vaccine to be 89.3% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection.

The results of the phase 3 study, coordinated by researchers at George’s, University of London and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust show the vaccine is effective against the new Covid-19 variant, which began circulating in the UK during the trial.

The UK has secured 60 million doses of Novavax’s vaccine to be delivered in the second half of this year, if approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who will assess whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.

Professor Paul Heath, trial lead and director of the Vaccine Institute at St George’s, University of London, said: “These are enormously exciting findings and show that this is a highly effective and safe Covid-19 vaccine – importantly it also shows that this is a vaccine that is effective against the UK variant that has spread so quickly.

“This wonderful news is a tribute to the over 15,000 volunteers in our trial, to the dedication of the UK investigators and to the huge support of the NIHR.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “This is positive news and, if approved by the medicines regulator, the Novavax vaccine will be a significant boost to our vaccination programme and another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus.

“I’m proud the UK is at the forefront of another medical breakthrough and I want to thank the brilliant scientists and researchers, as well as the tens of thousands of selfless volunteers who took park in clinical trials.

“The NHS stands ready to roll this vaccine out as quickly as possible to those most at risk if it is authorised.”

The Novavax vaccine differs from those currently being used in the UK. It combines an engineered protein from the virus that causes Covid-19 with a plant-based ingredient to help generate a stronger immune response. Having a diverse portfolio of vaccines increases the chances of ensuring there is a vaccine available for everyone across the UK.

The trial enrolled more than 15,000 people who were recruited through the National Institute of Health Research vaccine registry, which was launched in July 2020 to support the UK’s efforts to deliver vaccines for Covid-19. Nearly 4,000 people in the study were over the age of 65.