Novavax vs. Pfizer and Moderna: The Battle for COVID-19 Vaccine Supremacy

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Novavax vs. Pfizer and Moderna: The Battle for COVID-19 Vaccine Supremacy
Novavax vs. Pfizer and Moderna: The Battle for COVID-19 Vaccine Supremacy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently authorized a new COVID-19 booster shot from Novavax, providing another option alongside the mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Novavax’s vaccine targets the XBB.1.5 variant, a descendant of Omicron, and is the first protein-based vaccine to emerge in over a year. This traditional approach involves injecting proteins resembling those in SARS-CoV-2 directly into the body.

Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines, Novavax produces the protein in moth cells and includes a proprietary compound called Matrix-M, derived from Chilean soapbark trees, to further stimulate the immune system. Although protein vaccines take longer to adapt to new variants, the Novavax booster shows efficacy comparable to mRNA vaccines, with around 55% effectiveness against COVID symptoms and 31% against infection.

Studies suggest that mixing and matching different vaccine types, including mRNA and protein, yields similar antibody responses. Novavax’s booster might have longer-lasting antibodies than mRNA vaccines, but conclusive comparisons are challenging due to variations in exposure, infections, and vaccination combinations. In terms of side effects, Novavax appears to have a lower risk of myocarditis or pericarditis compared to mRNA vaccines, with fewer side effects in the first 48 hours post-vaccination.

Novavax’s booster is now available in pharmacies, shipped to various locations across the country. It is a single-dose regimen, although the CDC recommends two doses eight weeks apart for unvaccinated individuals. The vaccine rollout has faced delays, partly due to confusion over payment and insurance coverage. Despite the challenges, health experts emphasize the importance of choosing a booster and getting vaccinated to combat the rising numbers of COVID infections.

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