A brand new weapon within the battle in opposition to Covid-19 is on the horizon, because of researchers on the Norfolk and Norwich College Hospital (NNUH) at Norwich Research Park. Guide endocrinologist Professor Jeremy Turner explains his work on the Novavax trial.
Every month, these working on the pioneering coronary heart of Norwich Analysis Park inform us how their work is shaping the world we reside in. Read their stories here.
What does your work on the vaccine entail?
I work with Dr Christopher Jeanes, advisor in infectious illnesses, to supervise an investigative scientific trial into a brand new Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, a US biotechnology firm. There are greater than 15,000 folks within the UK taking part on this trial and 500 of these are in Norwich.
The quantity of organisation concerned in delivering a 500-participant research is immense. Usually, establishing a trial like this takes 9 months, whereas we had round 4 weeks! The problems, logistics and practicalities we needed to overcome have been monumental, however we efficiently launched the trial in October 2020. We’re presently in Section 3 of the trial and it’ll proceed till this November.
What are you able to inform us concerning the Novavax vaccine?
Whereas the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are RNA-based (ribonucleic acid is a molecule much like DNA), Novavax is a way more standard instance of vaccine expertise. It’s composed of a protein known as NVX-CoV2373, which is a tiny fragment of the virus’s outer coat – the half that types that spike we see on the floor of the coronavirus.
The Novavax vaccine is nice as a result of it’s steady at fridge temperature. Like many different vaccines it requires two doses, 21 days aside. Our software to the Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Company (MHRA) will probably be made imminently and I’m hopeful that Novavax will probably be accessible within the late spring or early summer time.
Will the vaccine defend us in opposition to Covid-19?
The Novavax vaccine has 95% efficacy in opposition to the unique SARS-CoV-2 virus. This implies in scientific trials 5% of those that contracted Covid-19 had obtained the vaccine. Additionally it is 86% efficient in opposition to the Kent variant, with the 2 figures averaging out at 89.3%. flu vaccine is about 60% efficient, so we’re over the moon with 89.3% efficacy. One other Novavax trial in South Africa is in its second section and has demonstrated 60% efficacy in opposition to the South African variant.
Nevertheless, safety and immunity are actually about vaccinating entire populations and fewer about people. There are two facets.
The primary is: does the vaccine cease folks getting in poor health, being admitted to hospital, and dying? The reply is ‘Sure’, we have now good proof that this vaccine does.
The second is: does it forestall the virus spreading all through the inhabitants? We don’t truly know the reply to that but, although we’d anticipate it to be so. A variety of these questions are but to be researched and answered definitively. However it’s not possible to not be optimistic and the information is beginning to help that optimism.
The place did the trial happen?
The trial was delivered within the NNUH-run Clinical Research Facility (CRF) on the Quadram Institute at Norwich Analysis Park, in collaboration with the Nationwide Institute for Well being Analysis (NIHR) and its Medical Analysis Community (CRN). I’m additionally scientific director for the CRN within the East of England and it’s a nice privilege to be one tiny a part of a venture like this.
We needs to be so happy with the NIHR and Norwich Analysis Park. They put us on the absolute forefront of world medical analysis. We couldn’t have delivered this research with out the CRF – it’s a cutting-edge, Twenty first-century analysis facility. And, in fact, there’s no approach we may have performed this with out the nice folks of Norfolk giving freely up their time.
What do you rise up to if you find yourself not working?
In the mean time, after I’m not working, I primarily work (laughs). I’ve been operating the Covid admission unit as nicely, so I’ve been proper on the coalface. However once we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, I’m by no means happier than when biking across the Norfolk countryside. I do the Norwich 100 and the Cambridge to Norwich bike rides most years. I really feel very fortunate to reside in such an attractive metropolis in the midst of such an attractive county with its lovely shoreline.
Professor Jeremy Turner is co-principal investigator of the Novavax vaccine trial at Norwich Analysis Park.