Gaithersburg, Md.-based Novavax is beginning the final stages of testing for its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Novavax is the fifth company to reach the testing stage after Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
About 30,000 volunteers — preferably from adults who are in the high-risk categories such as the elderly, Blacks, Latinos and those who have been significantly affected by the virus — will be needed for the terminal clinical testing stages, The Associated Press reported.
Two-thirds of the federally-funded Novavax study volunteers will get the vaccine and the others will receive “dummy” shots. The Novavax vaccine candidate uses lab-grown harmless copies of the spike protein that coats the coronavirus to train the body to recognize if the real virus comes along, AP reported.
The U.S. has already given the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna emergency-use authorization, though neither will be available to the general public for several months.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said vaccine candidates other than Pfizer’s and Moderna’s will be needed to fully vaccinate the country.
“If you want to have enough vaccine to vaccinate all the people in the U.S. who you’d like to vaccinate — up to 85 percent or more of the population—you’re going to need more than two companies,” Fauci told AP.
As of Monday, the U.S. has roughly 19.2 million coronavirus cases and 334,000 related deaths, both tops globally, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.