Covid-19: green light for Novavax vaccine in France, based on classic technology


The first deliveries of this vaccine should take place in February.

The Covid-19 vaccine from the American laboratory Novavax, based on classic technology, will become the fifth to be available in France after the green light from the High Health Authority (HAS) on Friday.

This vaccine and that of Janssen (already available for people over 55) can in certain cases be “a useful alternative” for people reluctant to be injected with messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, judges the HAS in its opinion.

Even if four vaccines were previously authorized in France, those of Pfizer and Moderna are, in fact, almost exclusively used. They are based on an unprecedented technology, messenger RNA. The other two, those of AstraZeneca and Janssen, are redirected to poor countries via the international Covax programme.

The first deliveries of the Novavax vaccine (marketed under the name Nuvaxovid) should take place in early February, the Ministry of Health said this week, pending the opinion of the HAS. France expects 3 million doses. On December 21, the European Union gave the green light to this vaccine based on the same technology as that of whooping cough.

Responsible for defining France’s vaccination policy, the HAS considers in its new opinion that we must “favor” mRNA vaccines for the first injections as well as for the booster, due to their high efficiency.

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However, it considers that Novavax and Janssen “represent an additional option” for people who “unwilling or unable to receive” mRNA vaccines. These are the “mRNA vaccine reluctant people” or of “those who experienced a serious adverse event after a first injection”.

In the context of an epidemic outbreak due to the Omicron variant, it is “essential to complete the coverage for the primary vaccination and to accelerate the recall campaign” among these people, insists the HAS. For the first two doses, these people can be vaccinated with either Janssen (two months between doses) or Novavax (three weeks between doses), provided they are 55 years of age or older.

If they are under 55, they can be vaccinated with Novavax. If he is unavailable, Janssen may “exceptionally” be used after informing the person that the risk of side effects is increased in this age group.

As a reminder, the HAS believes that Janssen can be used in people aged 55 and over, even if they have had two doses of the mRNA vaccine before. On the other hand, Novavax should never be used as a booster, for lack of clinical trials.


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