Singapore is the latest country to approve Novavax’s COVID vaccine while the U.S. reviews application

February 14, 2022, 6:36 AM UTC

On Monday, Singapore approved the COVID vaccine from U.S. vaccine maker Novavax for adults over age 18, making the city-state the latest country to give the go-ahead to Novavax’s protein-based jab.

Novavax’s approval in Singapore follows a string of regulatory victories for the American firm, which has racked up approvals with the World Health Organization and European Medicines Agency and individual countries like Australia, the U.K., and South Korea since late last year.

Singapore’s government says it expects shipments of the jab to arrive within “the next few months.” It approved the jab based on clinical data that demonstrated up to 90% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 infections and 100% efficacy in preventing deaths. Singapore’s government said Novavax has not provided data on how the vaccine performs against Delta and Omicron variants, but it believes that the vaccine will continue to maintain efficacy against the more recent variants.

“[Novavax’s] vaccine meets [Singapore’s] quality, safety, and efficacy standards, and the benefits outweigh the risks for the Singapore population,” a press release said.

In its vaccination drive, Singapore has deployed mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer as well as an inactivated jab from Chinese maker Sinovac. Singapore is also one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with 84.8% of its population fully vaccinated and 57.6% of its population boosted. The U.S., by contrast, has fully vaccinated 63.8% of its population and boosted 27.3% of people, according to Bloomberg.

Novavax’s protein-based COVID jab works slightly differently from the mRNA jabs of Pfizer and Moderna. Novavax’s vaccine inserts noninfectious spike proteins into the body to induce an immune response. The mRNA jabs teach the body to make its own spike proteins to ward off infections.

Manufacturing and regulatory delays plagued Novavax for much of last year, but the company’s alternative, protein-based vaccine technology has nonetheless inspired a group of fans to wait to get the vaccine as a primary dose or booster shot, even though—in many cases—they’ve had access to other vaccines for months.

“Despite high vaccination rates in Australia, there has been a demand for a protein-based formula,” Greg Hunt, Australia’s minister of health, said in a statement about rolling out Novavax’s vaccine this week. “For some people, the arrival of Novavax will be the extra push they need to get their first jab and kick-start their protection against COVID-19.”

In the U.S., Novavax submitted its final paperwork to the Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 31, and Novavax CEO Stanley Erck recently said he expects feedback from the FDA this month. Novavax also announced last Thursday that its vaccine proved 80% effective in a Phase III trial among 12- to 17-year-olds at a time when the Delta variant was dominant in the U.S., which may help the firm get its jab into the arms of younger populations.

“We believe the Novavax vaccine offers a differentiated technology and option for this younger population given its established protein-based technology already used in other vaccines, and the positive responses demonstrated against variants,” Filip Dubovsky, Novavax’s chief medical officer, said in a press release.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.