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Duval County site participating in Novavax vaccine trial for children

A clinical trial of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine began in teenagers Monday. One of the research sites is right here in Jacksonville.
A clinical trial of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine began in teenagers Monday. One of the research sites is right here in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the push continues to vaccinate millions more Americans, Maryland company Novavax is launching another COVID-19 vaccine trial in children ages 12 to 17. One of the 75 sites participating is in Duval County.

It’s the latest study to explore vaccine effectiveness in children, joining Pfizer and Moderna.

The company will enroll up to 3,000 teens to participate. Participants will randomly receive either the active vaccine or a placebo in two doses, administered 21 days apart. Two-thirds of the participants will get the active virus, while one-third will get the placebo.

Dr. Michael Koren is the CEO and principal investigator for the Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research. The center is participating in the Novavax study.

“The Novavax technology is particularly fascinating because it does not involve the injection of a virus,” said Dr. Koren. “It’s a technology where you get a pure part of the spike protein. No virus. Nothing that can reproduce with something called an adjuvant, such that a very small amount of the spike protein produces an immune response.”

In Duval County, a little more than 10% of its newly reported COVID-19 cases in April were among children ages 5 to 14.

The COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax has not yet been granted emergency use authorization in the United States like Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and Moderna. According to the CDC, it currently has clinical trials in progress in the United States.

In a February seminar, the President of Novavax’s research and development said that in the UK the vaccine was found to be more than 89% efficacious against the Coronavirus. Back in July, Novavax received a $1.6 billion grant from the government’s operation Warp Speed to have 100 million doses ready by early 2021.

The vaccine is months behind other companies, but the New England Journal of Medicine said the vaccine “induced high immune responses.”

“We understand that vaccines are a little bit scary for some people and some people have made the point that these vaccines have been developed very, very quickly. But the flip side is that they have also been tested extensively,” said Dr. Koren. “All these vaccines have literally been tested in tens of thousands of people.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.