Coronavirus: vaccine candidates show promise in trials

January 29, 2021
Keith A. Reynolds

New COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have shown high efficacy on some variants of the disease.

Hope may be on the horizon as a pair of drug makers say their COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine candidates show high efficacy in some of the disease’s variants.

Vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have shown to be effective not only against the COVID-19 coronavirus, but also variants of the disease first observed in the U.K and South Africa.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson candidate was shown to be 66 percent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe. COVID-19 after 28 days with the onset of protection observed as early as 14 days after vaccination. As part of the multinational Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study, the candidate showed the level of protection was 72 percent in the U.S., 66 percent in Latin America, and 57 percent in. South Africa, according to a news release.

“Our goal all along has been to create a simple, effective solution for the largest number of people possible, and to have maximum impact to help end the pandemic," Alex Gorsky, chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, says in the release. "We're proud to have reached this critical milestone and our commitment to address this global health crisis continues with urgency for everyone, everywhere."

The trial also showed the candidate was 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease across all regions 28 days after injection and the efficacy grew over time with no cases in vaccinated participants after 49 days, the release says.

The Novavax candidate showed 89.3 percent efficacy in a Phase 3 clinical trial in the U.K. with more than 50 percent of study cases showing the U.K variant, and 60 percent efficacy in a Phase 2b clinical trial in South Africa. More than 90 percent of the cases in this test were the South African variant, according to a news release.

“These are spectacular results, and we are very pleased to have helped Novavax with the development of this vaccine,” Clive Dix, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, says in the release. “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.”