What is Novavax, the new and different COVID-19 vaccine that’s soon to arrive in B.C.?

Click to play video: 'Canada approves protein-based Novavax vaccine'
Canada approves protein-based Novavax vaccine
WATCH: Health Canada has approved the use of the Novavax vaccine. Global BC medical contributor, Dr. Birinder Narang, explains what it means for British Columbians, and the advisory information from NACI – Feb 19, 2022

British Columbians will soon have another option for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Novavax has been approved for use by Health Canada and on Wednesday, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the vaccine will be available in the province in the next few weeks.

“I think this is really good news,” Henry said. “This is an important new, different class of vaccination. It is what we call a protein subunit vaccine.

“It’s another option for people who require immunization and who have not yet been vaccinated and need it for work or for people who are health-care workers, for example, for people who have had a reaction to an mRNA vaccine.

“This is a perfectly good and valid option to make up those doses that you need to get full protection.”

Story continues below advertisement

Henry said this type of vaccine is an interesting one as it uses no human-derived materials in its development and uses instead an insect cell line.

“It also has an adjuvant that’s made out of soap bark tree extract. So it is plant-based as well in part.”

Click to play video: 'Canada’s top doctors say unvaccinated, those without booster could benefit from Novavax vaccine'
Canada’s top doctors say unvaccinated, those without booster could benefit from Novavax vaccine

Henry added it is different than the mRNA vaccines as in this type of vaccine, the proteins are the virus.

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.

“Baculovirus is used and it generates proteins that are then purified from these moth cells,” she said. “And the proteins are put together with this matrix made out of the soap bark tree extract.

Story continues below advertisement

“So you’re given the proteins directly and those stimulate your own immune system to develop antibodies, both antibodies and cell-mediated immunity against those proteins. So this is a more traditional type of vaccine.”

She added many other vaccines are made this way, including some of the influenza vaccines.

It also does not require to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is approved for everyone over the age of 18.

Click to play video: 'Health Canada advisor on the difference between protein-based and mRNA vaccines'
Health Canada advisor on the difference between protein-based and mRNA vaccines

Henry said it will be available primarily through pharmacies and some other health clinics but the best thing to do is to call the COVID vaccine line and tell them you are interested in this vaccine so you can be added to a list and notified when it is available.

Story continues below advertisement

It is a two-dose vaccine.

“I think this is fantastic,” Henry added. “It’s another really important tool that we have now in our toolbox that’s going to get us through both this Omicron wave, but is also going to get us through what comes next.”

Sponsored content