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Third time lucky: Novavax vaccine could be available by June

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The head of Australia’s medicines regulator says talks are progressing on securing a third vaccine, produced by Novavax, to tackle COVID-19.

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Therapeutic Goods Administration boss John Skerritt said there were “very promising early results” in trials of the Novovax vaccine.

However, Prof Skerritt said the clinical trials had not yet been completed and the company needed to establish large-scale manufacturing arrangements.

“I think that we probably are still, sadly, a couple of months away – June – before we will get the Novavax data,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“We talk to them regularly and I was talking to them yesterday and we are talking with them at a big meeting on Thursday.

“And we are obviously trying to hurry them up but clearly you can’t make things like clinical trials go faster.”

Australia has an order for 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, a two-dose protein vaccine expected to be produced in Europe.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said as for other types of vaccine, the government continued to follow the advice of scientific and technical advisers.

But Hunt said Australia already had deals in place for 170 million vaccine doses, sourced from Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

The government has decided against buying the one-dose Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine to boost the nation’s immunisation stocks.

Hunt has ruled out proceeding with the purchase at this stage because it is too similar to the AstraZeneca drug.

Meanwhile, the TGA has identified a second case of rare blood clots believed to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The rare but potentially deadly blood-clotting disorder recently resulted in the AstraZeneca vaccine being no longer recommended to any Australians aged under 50, derailing the national vaccine rollout.

It is the second Australian report of a case of rare blood clots after a 44-year-old Melbourne man developed the condition following his AstraZeneca vaccination last month.

Expert advisers to the TGA have concluded the latest incident is similar to blood clotting cases seen in Europe and the United Kingdom.

There have been about 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines administered in Australia, so the two cases equate to a frequency of one in every 350,000 people.

 

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