An experimental Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer strong protection in late-stage UK and South Africa studies, said manufacturer Novavax.
The UK has secured access to 60 million doses of the vaccine, called NVX-CoV2373.
The protein-based vaccine candidate was shown to be 89.3% effective at preventing coronavirus in participants in its Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK, which enrolled more than 15,000 people between 18-84, of which 27% were older than 65, Novavax said.
“NVX-CoV2373 is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against Covid-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly emerging UK and South Africa variants,” said Stanley Erck, the biotechnology firm’s president and chief executive.
The trial was carried out in conjunction with the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, with its chairman Clive Dix saying in a statement: “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.”
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS stands ready to roll out the Novavax vaccine if it is approved by the medicines regulator.
He said: “This is positive news and, if approved by the medicines regulator, the Novavax vaccine will be a significant boost to our vaccination programme and another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus.
“I’m proud the UK is at the forefront of another medical breakthrough and I want to thank the brilliant scientists and researchers, as well as the tens of thousands of selfless volunteers who took park in clinical trials.
“The NHS stands ready to roll this vaccine out as quickly as possible to those most at risk if it is authorised.”
Preliminary analysis has also showed the new UK variant was detected in more than half of the Covid-19 cases recorded in the trials, with the vaccine candidate shown to be 95.6% effective against the original strain and 85.6% effective against the variant.
The study involved more than 15,000 participants aged 18 to 84, with 27% aged over 65.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Having taken part in Novavax’s vaccine trial myself, I am particularly thrilled to see such positive results. I want to thank the thousands of trial volunteers, without whom these results would not have been possible.
“It will now be for the regulator to do its crucial work in assessing the efficacy and safety of this vaccine, but if approved it will be a further boost to our vaccination programme.”
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the Valneva factory in Livingston, where another potential vaccine is being produced.