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No demand for new Covid vaccine – “It will probably be discarded”

So far, just under 6 000 doses of the Covid vaccine from Novavax have been used in Sweden, leaving over 1.4 million doses in stock. “They will probably be discarded due to lack of demand in Sweden as well as globally,” says Sweden’s National Vaccine Coordinator Richard Bergström to Life Science Sweden.

The protein-based vaccine Nuvaxovid was introduced in Sweden at the beginning of March as a more traditional complement to the Covid vaccines from Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna, both of which are based on the relatively new mRNA technology.

However, as Life Science Sweden wrote in a previous article, interest has been low. Only a fraction of the purchased doses have been used, and the vast majority will have to be discarded when the expiry date is due after the summer.

“It is a problem in the sense that we have purchased the doses, and they should be used,” says Richard Bergström.

According to him, this is due to the fact that the Novavax vaccine came with almost a 1-year delay due to significant production problems such as, among other things, shortcomings in comparability, difficulties making the company’s factories in India and the Czech Republic produce exactly the same material as that used in the clinical studies in the spring of 2021.

Another problem is that the vaccine is not formally approved as a booster.

“If it is used as a booster dose in Sweden today, it is actually “off label”. Theoretically and technologically, there is much to suggest that this is a good vaccine for use in that way, but it is not formally approved for this purpose.”

The main reason for pre-ordering Nuvaxovid and other upcoming protein-based vaccines was a wish to use different technologies for safety reasons. At the time, nobody knew that the mRNA vaccines would prove so effective.

Hopes have also been expressed that the introduction of a more traditionally developed vaccine would make former sceptics roll up their sleeves. However, the impact has been weak.

“It was always an extra argument that you might persuade some sceptics to get vaccinated. But I had no illusions that the remaining unvaccinated population would suddenly opt for this vaccine,” says Richard Bergström.

The future outcome of Nuvaxovid in Sweden is unclear. This is partly due to a new protein-based vaccine from French company Sanofi, which will also be updated for newer virus variants and is expected to be released during the year.

“Discussions with the Public Health Agency are ongoing. Do we need to purchase more doses of Nuvaxovid to replace those that expire? This is now debated,” says Richard Bergström.

Artikeln är en del av vårt tema om News in English.

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