Is Novavax, the Newest Covid Vaccine, Worth the Wait?

Erin Kissane, a co-founder of the COVID Tracking Project, received the Novavax covid-19 vaccine in mid-October in the United States. Kissane, who has autoimmune arthritis, aims to shield herself from a potentially devastating covid infection, especially after experiencing unusual side effects from mRNA boosters in the past. Despite that, she still sees the mRNA vaccines as “miraculous.” After analyzing different studies focusing on the Novavax’s shot, Kissane opted to get the vaccine due to its temporary side effects compared to those of other vaccines.

While many others with long covid and chronic fatigue syndrome followed her, the biology community also expressed interest in the technology behind Novavax’s vaccine. Florian Krammer, a virologist, acknowledged on Twitter that he selected Novavax because he is a “vaccine nerd” who appreciates insect-cell produced vaccines.

Unlike mRNA vaccines, which prompt the body to generate spike proteins from the coronavirus, Novavax injects these proteins directly into the body. The vaccine can offer potency, and data backs its safety and efficacy. This fact became more critical as vaccine uptake sharply declined in 2022. While the vaccine protects against severe illness, researchers continue to struggle to specify the effectiveness of all covid vaccines due to multiple factors.

Nevertheless, a recent study has suggested that the Novavax vaccine presents a comparable safety and efficacy profile as the mRNA shots despite arriving late. This has provided comfort to many people who either felt lousy after their mRNA shots or hope to avoid similar side effects. The field of long covid and ME/CFS has had mixed responses to covid vaccinations. While some reported mild improvements, others faced temporary aggravation post-vaccination.

On top of this are other challenges, such as the unpredictable uptake of both Novavax and mRNA vaccines, pharmacy struggles, and insurance companies’ issues with reimbursements for these newer vaccine options. Nonetheless, many people still pursue relief and protection due to the uncertainties surrounding the vaccines. Scientists and individuals, like Hayley Brown, continue searching for the best vaccine option by weighing the temporary discomfort against the risks of another infection.

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