Two new Covid-19 vaccines are expected to hit the European and Finnish markets this year. They are considered to be more traditional than their mRNA counterparts, which are already widely used.
On December 20, the European Commission approved one of the expected new vaccines, Nuvaxovid, manufactured by the US biotechnology company Novavax. It was conditionally approved European Medicines Agency (DAM).
Finland is also preparing for the introduction of the French-Austrian vaccine Valvana Covid. The EU has already ordered 60 million doses of the company’s VLA2001 vaccine, but the market approval process for the injections is still ongoing.
One advantage of Novavax over mRNA counterparts such as Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna is its longer shelf life. Therefore, Novavax is expected to facilitate Covid vaccines in developing countries.
For example, Israel is already distributing a fourth booster dose of Covid vaccines to its well-vaccinated population, while in some developing countries the coverage of the primary population is still less than 10 percent.
At the same time, Finland is introducing a third vaccination for adults and also a fourth booster dose for severely immunocompromised people.
Manufactured by a small US manufacturer, Nuvaxovid was the first Covid protein vaccine to be approved by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission.
Vaccine manufacturer Novavax has said it plans to start shipping vaccines to the EU earlier this year and has tentatively promised to deliver the first 100 million doses in the first quarter of the year. So far, the EU has agreed to buy 200 million doses of Nuvaxovidi and an option for an additional 100 million doses.
Arrival dates unknown
About 1.2 percent of these doses are to be delivered in Finland. By Mia KontioThe virologist of the National Institute for Health and Welfare does not know when Novavax injections could start arriving in Finland.
Kontio noted that when new vaccines enter the market, manufacturing and distribution problems can often arise "It remains to be seen whether this will also happen."
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At first, Finland planned to buy only small quantities of Nuvaxovid, but Kontio said that it was now considering purchasing larger quantities.
"The commitment to purchase small amounts will allow Finland to join the EU trade agreement and order more if it is considered reasonable," Kontio said.
According to the EMA, Nuvaxovid is given as two injections, usually into the muscle of the upper arm, every three weeks between each injection.
"Nuvaxovid prepares the body to defend itself against Covid. The vaccine contains a version of a protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 (spike protein) that has been produced in a laboratory. It also contains an “adjuvant”, a substance that helps to strengthen the immune response to the vaccine," the EMA explained in a press release issued last month.
Vaccine Specialist Mika Rämet The University of Tampere’s Vaccine Research Center told Yle that the peak protein is produced in human cells instead of in a test tube or production facility.
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"The vaccine contains this peak protein and an adjuvant" he explained.
At the same time, Valnevan VLA2001 differs from other coronavirus vaccines on the EU market in that it exposes an individual’s immune system to the whole virus and not just the spike protein.
Similar side effects
Rämet said the potential side effects of both new vaccines are very similar to those currently on the market.
According to the pharmaceutical regulator Fimea, the side effects of Covid vaccines currently on the Finnish market include: "fever, chills, headache, tiredness, muscle and joint pain, enlarged and sore lymph nodes, allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea and reactions at the vaccine site."
"Based on the efficacy and safety study, Novavax and Valneva vaccines appear to be well tolerated and do not have serious side effects." he said.
Kontio repeated such feelings.
"The side effects are likely to be similar to those of current vaccines. But it’s hard to say if there could be differences because [new] vaccinations have not yet been given to the same number of people," Kontio stated that the disadvantage of the new vaccines compared to the previous ones is the lack of long-term monitoring of their use.
The effectiveness of the new vaccines is still unclear, as clinical trials were conducted before the arrival of the Omicron variant.
Previously, Novavax was 90% effective and 100% effective in preventing a serious illness caused by a coronavirus infection.
"Questions are raised about the effectiveness of the vaccine, the size of the booster dose due to the loss of efficacy, and how well protection can be maintained if new variants become available. But like mRNA vaccines, they can be updated as needed," Rämet explained.
In the meantime, however, the Valneva vaccine in particular can be said to be helpful in possible new variants of the coronavirus, according to Rämet.
Source: The Nordic Page
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