People in Italy aged 18 and over are now eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19 with ‘Nuvaxovid’ – the name of the new Covid vaccine from the company Novavax.
Around one million doses are initially due to arrive in Italy by the end of February, according to Italian media reports.
Some 100 million initial doses in total have been shipped to Italy and other EU countries from the company’s Dutch distribution centre, the US medical company announced in a statement.
It’s hoped that Novavax could offer a more attractive alternative for previously unvaccinated people who are sceptical about the mRNA and vector vaccines.
“It’s a protein vaccine, like the flu vaccines,” said Italian medicines agency director Nicola Magrini earlier in February. “It will be a small supplement compared to the other mRna vaccines. Some seem to prefer it.”
Some regions of Italy have already opened bookings for the new vaccine, noted Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The Marche region and Lombardy, for example, have started accepting vaccine bookings for the new inoculation, while Emilia Romagna is set to offer vaccine hubs with the new jab.
Each regional healthcare system can decide how it will administer the shot, so people looking to book their dose will need to check their region of residence’s guidelines. Find links here.
On a national level, Italy’s Ministry of Health has published a circular with instructions on the vaccine’s use ahead of its delivery.
Novavax, whose trade name is ‘Nuvaxovid’, has so far only been approved for the primary cycle. The first and second doses are given three weeks apart, while approval is pending for the third dose.
Nuvaxovid is a so-called protein vaccine which contains coronavirus-like particles that stimulate the immune system to produce defence antibodies and T-cells against SARS-CoV-2 – that is, white blood cells specialised to fight the virus to protect against Covid-19.
The ministry’s circular states that, “the duration of protection offered by the vaccine is not known, as it is still being determined in ongoing clinical trials”.
“None of the components of this vaccine can cause Covid-19,” the circular reads.
“Protection may not be complete until seven days after administration of the second dose. As with all vaccines, vaccination with Nuvaxovid may not protect all vaccinees,” it added.
Its efficacy, calculated during the trials, is 90 percent in preventing symptomatic disease, slightly lower than for the RNA vaccines, which reached 95 percent.
Tests were carried out before the arrival of the Omicron variant, however. It is possible that the protection of Novavax has dropped a little since then.
The vaccine rollout follows its approval by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) in December, after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the go-ahead just days before.
Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).