Commission approves Novavax coronavirus vaccine deal — finally

The announcement caps more than a year and a half of talks.

Commission approves Novavax coronavirus vaccine deal — finally

The EU has approved a deal with Novavax to secure up to 200 million doses of the company’s protein-based coronavirus vaccine after more than half a year of talks, the Commission announced today.

EU countries will secure 100 million doses and have the option to purchase another 100 million doses through 2023.

The EU announced it had completed “exploratory talks” with the company back in December 2020, but the deal was held up over issues securing a delivery schedule and establishing the U.S. company’s European supply chain.

The Commission wrote today that the vaccines will be available in the fourth quarter of 2021 and in 2022. Countries can also donate or sell the vaccines to other countries.

The vaccine uses a different technology than the mRNA and viral vector vaccines currently in use. It’s the same technology behind Sanofi’s vaccine — which the EU is slated to buy up to 300 million doses’ worth — but that shot was delayed at the end of 2020.

“Our new agreement with Novavax expands our vaccine portfolio to include one more protein-based vaccine, a platform showing promise in clinical trials,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides wrote in a statement.

The vaccine looks promising. In June, clinical trials showed it’s 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 cases — even with variants circulating.

 “As new coronavirus variants are spreading in Europe and around the world, this new contract with a company that is already testing its vaccine successfully against these variants is an additional safeguard for the protection of our population,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote.

The European Medicines Agency is conducting a rolling review of the vaccine, and the company still has to submit a formal marketing application for EU approval.

Although more than 70 percent of Europeans have received their first dose already, experts say that receiving a different type of vaccine as a booster could help improve people’s long-term immunity against the virus.