January 29, 2021 @ 9:04 by Richard Dawson
A North East company is set to produce 60 million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine after late-stage clinical trials demonstrated efficacy of 89.3 per cent.
The UK’s supply of a protein-based vaccine created by US firm Novavax will be made on Teesside at Fujifilm Diosynth.
It becomes the fourth vaccine in the world to make it through phase 3 clinical trials and will likely follow the AstraZeneca/Oxford University, BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna jabs into regulatory approval.
It is also the first candidate to demonstrate clinical efficacy against the new variants of COVID-19, with more than 50 per cent of cases in the UK trial attributable to the UK strain first identified in Kent and more than 90 per cent of cases in the South African trial attributable to its mutant strain.
The UK trial enrolled more than 15,000 participants between 18-84 years of age, including 27 per cent over the age of 65.
Interim analysis is based 62 cases, of which 56 cases of coronavirus were observed in the placebo group versus 6 cases observed in the Novavax-vaccinated group, resulting in an efficacy estimate of 89.3 per cent.
Clive Dix, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said: “These are spectacular results, and we are very pleased to have helped Novavax with the development of this vaccine.
“The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging.
“This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus.”
60 million doses of the Novavax NVX-CoV2373 vaccine will be produced by Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies – a global biopharmaceuticals manufacturer based in Billingham, Teesside.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “All 60 million doses of this lifesaving vaccine will be manufactured right here in Teesside by Fujifilm Diosynth at its BioCampus in Billingham.
“Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve worked closely with government ministers and officials to make sure our hugely talented and world leading bioscience sector played a full role in vaccine production, this culminated in the deal being struck in August last year for Fujifilm Diosynth being the sole UK manufacturer of the Novavax jab.
“Once again Teesside is leading the way and putting itself on the world stage for the fantastic work we do in our region.
“This is a significant announcement that everyone in Teesside should be proud of as we are at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to get life back to normal and protect us all.”