What you should know about Covovax

The protein-based vaccine, which is about 90 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic coronavirus, received emergency-use approval from the Drugs Controller General of India

Novovax’s COVID-19 vaccine gets authorisation for 12-17 age group in India: What you should know about Covovax

With Novovax’s vaccine, India will now have four vaccines for adolescents aged 12 years and older in India after Biological E’s Corbevax, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. AFP

India’s battle against coronavirus received a boost on Wednesday morning after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted emergency-use authorisation to United States pharma giant Novavax for its vaccine for children aged 12 to 17 years.

As per an official statement released by Novovax, the vaccine, also known as NVX-CoV2373, is manufactured and marketed in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII) under the brand name Covovax and is the first protein-based vaccine authorised for use in this age group in India.

«We’re proud of this first approval in adolescents given the efficacy and safety that our data show in this population and that our COVID-19 vaccine will provide an alternative protein-based vaccine option for individuals 12 years of age and older in India,» said Stanley C Erck, president and chief executive officer, Novavax.

Covovax is the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to be authorised for adolescents aged 12 years and older in India after Biological E’s Corbevax, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

Here’s what we know about this vaccine — from how it’s been prepared, its efficacy, to its side effects.


The Covovax jab is a protein adjuvant vaccine. This means that it uses a fragment of a harmless protein of the virus that’s grown in a cell culture and stimulates an immune response.

While vaccines such as Pfizer’s or even Serum Institute’s Covishield, which uses the mRNA technology, cause your body to create the spike proteins, the Novavax vaccine injects them into your body directly.

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is a two-shot formula that can be stored at refrigerator temperatures.

WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation has recommended the vaccine with an interval of three to four weeks between the two doses.

MarkAlain Dery, an infectious disease doctor in New Orleans, speaking to VICE explained that Novavax would be helpful in getting over the vaccine hesitation.

For instance, many are opposed to COVID-19 vaccines, citing that the mRNA vaxes will “change our DNA,” or cause infertility.

As Dery explains: “For vaccine hesitant folks, Novavax eliminates the argument that this was developed ‘too quickly’.”

How effective is it?

According to the findings from the Phase III clinical trials, Covovax is about 90 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 per cent effective in preventing severe infection.

The company also added that the vaccine is 93.2 per cent effective against circulating «variants of concern» and «variants of interest.»

As of date, there’s no data on whether Covovax is effective against the Omicron or Delta variants.

Are there any side effects to using the Novavax vaccine?

As with all COVID-19 vaccines, there are some side effects, however, the company says that they are relatively mild.

The company added that the side effects to taking Covovax were similar to those of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The most common side effects reported in Novavax’s trials were injection site pain and tenderness lasting less than three days, as well as fatigue, headache and muscle pain lasting less than two days.

With inputs from agencies

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