A fourth option by fall: Doctors optimistic Novavax could help Wisconsin, the world reach herd immunity faster

MADISON, Wis. — You could soon have a fourth option when it comes to protecting yourself and those around you from the coronavirus. Today, Novavax announced its shot proved 90% effective in large-scale clinical trials, clearing the way for eventual FDA authorization.

READ MORE: Large study finds COVID-19 shot about 90% effective

Whether you’re already vaccinated or not, UW Health Doctor Jeff Pothof says this news will likely impact you, if not now, then in a few years.

“At some point, we’re going to learn that immunity is going to fade from this first round of vaccinations,” Pothof said, adding that whether that’s in one year from now or three, right now, doctors don’t know.

“But when we do know the answer to that, we’re going to have millions of people needing a booster dose. Having a fourth option for that is a good thing.”

Pothof believes Novavax will likely prove its value even earlier overseas. While vaccine demand is dwindling in Dane County, where more than 67% of people have received at least one dose, less than 1% of people in developing countries have received their first shot.

“The idea that a variant develops that defeats all of the vaccines out there starts to go away as we get a greater percentage of the world vaccinated,” Pothof said.

Easier to store and transport than Pfizer or Moderna, Pothof says Novavax could be key in helping many places reach herd immunity and maintain it as the coronavirus continues to mutate.

“In the past, it would’ve taken five or ten years to create this stuff,” Pothof said, marveling at the vaccine development timeline. “It’s really just a testament to what happens when everyone works together.”

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It will likely be awhile before Novavax is even potentially an option in Wisconsin. Early projections show the vaccine could receive emergency authorization by September. Although, with three vaccines already available in the U.S., Pothof says Novavax may push for full FDA authorization instead, which would take even longer.