New corona vaccine: Thousands want Novavax vaccination

As of: 01/28/2022 4:39 p.m

The Novavax corona vaccine will be available from the end of February. In Rhineland-Palatinate, registration for a vaccination with the new vaccine has been possible since Monday as the first federal state. Thousands of interested parties have already registered there.

Depending on the definition, Novavax’s vaccine is not, strictly speaking, a real “dead vaccine”, but is often referred to as such, even by the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Health Clemens Hoch. Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach also says that the preparation is “virtually an inactivated vaccine”. It is a protein-based vaccine and could persuade those people in particular who are skeptical about vaccination with the dominant mRNA vaccines to take a corona vaccination. Because it works in a similar way to tried-and-tested vaccines, for example against influenza.

It has been possible to register for a Novavax vaccination in Rhineland-Palatinate since January 24th. The country then expects the first delivery from the federal government at the end of February. Lauterbach announced in mid-January that the Novavax vaccine would be available from February 21. This would then give five vaccines to choose from in Germany: the vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and in the future also from Novavax.

Increased interest in primary vaccinations

In Rhineland-Palatinate, 9139 people registered for vaccination with the Novavax vaccine within the first four days. Most of them – around 5,000 – in the first few hours on Monday. Overall, as many people registered for a first vaccination in Rhineland-Palatinate this week as in the three months before. It is unclear whether this is due to the new vaccine.

“We do not expect vaccinations with the Novavax vaccine to close the last vaccination gaps,” says Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Health Hoch. “Nevertheless, we are happy if some skeptics are now willing to get the vaccination with Novavax.” Every vaccination counts.

It is not known who the people are who have now decided to be vaccinated with Novavax. Occupation or place of residence are initially not recorded during registration. That means it can also be people from other federal states, the ministry explains on request. The following applies there: “In Rhineland-Palatinate, anyone who registers is vaccinated.”

How registration works

The four mRNA vaccines and vector vaccines BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson are currently available to the vaccination centers and vaccination centers. However, boosting is only done with mRNA vaccine (BioNTech and Moderna) – regardless of which vaccine was used for the first and second vaccination. In principle, nobody can choose the corona vaccine. The countries regulate who gets which, depending on availability and the applicable recommendations regarding age, vaccine combinations, previous illnesses and other parameters.

In the future, only the newly approved substance Novavax can be specified as a request when registering for the first appointment: “In this case, you will receive your first and second vaccination with the desired vaccine,” says the website of the Rhineland-Palatinate vaccination portal.

Delivery of millions of vaccine doses by the end of the year

The EU Commission approved the new vaccine from the US manufacturer Novavax in December as the fifth remedy against Covid-19 for adults within the Union. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, Germany will receive up to 34 million vaccine doses from Novavax this year.

In the first quarter, around four million vaccine doses will be delivered to Germany in several tranches, the first 1.4 million doses from February 21, then several more deliveries in staggered order. According to the ministry, votes are still being taken on the distribution to the individual federal states.

How Novavax works

Protein-based vaccines have been used reliably against influenza or tetanus for decades. Novavax’s new vaccine could therefore be of interest to those who are skeptical or hostile to mRNA vaccines. The Novavax vaccine is what is called a recombinant protein vaccine. It contains tiny particles consisting of a laboratory-made, i.e. artificial, version of the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein and is intended to boost its own production of antibodies.

For comparison: the mRNA preparations from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna work differently: here, with the help of snippets of genetic material, body cells are stimulated to produce the spike protein themselves in order to trigger an immune response. For some people who have so far refused vaccination, Novavax’s approach sounds more “natural” than that of mRNA vaccines, for example.

Admitted only from 18 years

Novavax is approved for adults over the age of 18. A more detailed recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Commission is still pending, but should be made before the end of February. According to manufacturer studies, the vaccination protection provided by the Novavax vaccine is 90 percent. However, the results mainly relate to earlier variants of the corona virus, which are currently rarely found in Germany. How well it works against the Omicron variant is not yet clear.

So far, two vaccinations with an interval of three to four weeks are planned. According to the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Health, a third, so-called booster vaccination is not yet recommended.

Transitional periods for Novavax vaccinated?

Vaccination is mandatory for employees in clinics, care and facilities for the disabled from March 15th. Despite corresponding demands from some countries, it is not planned that they will receive the new vaccine from Novavax as a priority. Since Novavax will not be used until February 21st at the earliest, two vaccinations three weeks apart are necessary and compulsory vaccination will come into force on March 15th, according to the Ministry of Health in Mainz, possible transitional periods are currently being discussed at federal and state level for those who have at least already registered for a Novavax vaccination. However, that has not yet been finally decided.

The Mainz University Medical Center – the largest hospital in Rhineland-Palatinate – sees such a regulation with mixed feelings: “A transition period for Novavax can make sense, but of course it is a question of extent. This transition period should certainly not cover too many weeks,” it says there. Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach emphasizes that the start of facility-related compulsory vaccination should not be delayed: “In the omicron wave, every day counts to protect vulnerable groups.”

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