A fourth COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use in the UK within weeks after late-stage trials suggested it was 89% effective in preventing coronavirus.
The prime minister has said the Novavax jab is now going to be assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
If approved, the vaccine would start to be rolled out in the second half of 2021. The UK has already ordered 60 million doses, which are going to be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees.
More than 15,000 people aged 18 to 84 took part in the Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK – about a quarter of whom were over the age of 65.
The extensive study also showed that the Novavax jab offered 86% protection against the new British strain of COVID-19, which is up to 70% more transmissible.
A smaller, separate trial also showed that it was about 60% effective against the South African variant, despite concerns that this strain may not respond to vaccines.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the NHS is prepared to start rolling out the vaccine quickly if authorised by the MHRA, adding: “This is positive news and, if approved by the medicines regulator, the Novavax vaccine will be a significant boost to our vaccination programme and another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was among those who took part in the Novavax trial, and said he was “particularly thrilled” to see such positive results – thanking fellow volunteers for taking part.
The breakthrough comes as a row deepens between the EU and AstraZeneca over vaccine shortages in the trading bloc.