JAKARTA, Indonesia — Biotechnology company Novavax said Monday that Indonesia has given the world’s first emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, which uses a different technology than currently used shots. The vaccine does not require cold storage, as some vaccines do. This could make it more accessible to countries with lower incomes.
The two-dose Novavax vaccine contains lab-grown versions of the spike protein that coats coronavirus. That’s very different from widely used mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna that deliver genetic instructions for the body to make its own spike protein.
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The emergency authorization of the vaccine is a “very important step” for Indonesia’s Covid-19 vaccination program, Indonesian epidemiologist Dicky Budiman said. This vaccine will be easier to transport, store, and distribute in an area like Indonesia where there are many islands,” he stated.
Budiman stated that if the vaccine’s rollout is successful, it may be approved and used in other developing countries. The need for vaccines in Indonesia and other countries is still critical.
In June, U.S.-based Novavax announced the vaccine had proven about 90 percent effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in a study of nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico. It was also effective against variants that were circulating in these countries at the time. The company stated that side effects included tenderness at injection sites, headaches, aches, pains, fatigue, and tenderness.
In October, it addressed concerns that production of the vaccine had been slowed due to a lack of raw materials and other issues, saying it planned to “achieve a capacity of 150 million doses per month by the end of the fourth quarter” through partnerships with Serum Institute of India, SK Bioscience in South Korea and Takeda in Japan, among others.
Novavax stated that it has filed for approval of the vaccine in India, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Indonesia was battered by a deadly wave of Covid-19 fueled by the delta variant and post-holiday travel from June through August. New cases have now dropped, averaging fewer than 1,000 a day since mid-October.
About 36 percent of people in Indonesia have received two doses of a vaccine, and about 58 percent have received one dose, according to the Ministry of Health.
More than 143,400 people have died from the virus in Indonesia. Due to low testing and tracing, the actual number may be lower than it actually is.