A new weapon in the war against COVID-19 has arrived in Tuscany. The governor of the region has announced that 60,000 doses of Nuvaxovid (known as Novavax in Italian) arrived and health care providers began administering them in March. They are designated to residents over 18 who have previously not been vaccinated. The Department of Health and Sanitation also plans to administer the vaccine to incoming Ukrainian refugees as it is estimated only 30% are vaccinated.
Produced by a small pharmaceutical company based in the US, Novavax, the vaccine is different than the other commonly used vaccines. The BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, manufactured with mRNA, and Johnson and Johnson, manufactured with an adenovirus, have faced some skepticism due to the newer technologies used to produce them. Nuvaxovid utilizes a spike protein of the actual coronavirus itself, formulated as a nanoparticle, which cannot cause disease. When injected, it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against the virus.
Health authorities hope that the more familiar technology which more people would be inclined to trust can reassure the unvaccinated population to accept the vaccination. In clinical trials Nuvaxovid proves to be as effective as the other EU approved vaccines exhibiting 90% efficacy against the coronavirus. In addition, the vaccine triggers fewer side effects than the mRNA vaccines with fatigue being less frequent as well as milder. Side effects also may be a concern for parents when considering vaccination for children.
The full inoculation consists of two doses three weeks apart. The combination of ease of manufacture, high efficacy and lower side effects brings hope that this new vaccine will prove a great benefit to prevent hospitalizations and death from COVID-19. To book an appointment to be vaccinated, visit the Region of Tuscany’s official website. (rita kungel)
To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.