From the end of February, Belgium will start offering the Novavax coronavirus vaccine – called Nuvaxovid – to people who are allergic to the other available vaccines or had proven side effects after a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
On Wednesday, the Interministerial Conference (IMC) on Public Health decided to purchase 510,000 doses of vaccine – approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in December – which will be delivered at the end of February or beginning of March.
As for Moderna and Pfizer, the Novavax vaccine requires two doses that are administered at an interval of at least three weeks.
“Currently, the vaccine has not yet been approved by the EMA as a booster shot. That is not on the agenda for right now, but it can happen soon,” Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the Vaccination Taskforce, told The Brussels Times.
She stressed that the approval for a booster dose will definitely come, but Belgium will already start with the basic vaccination in the meantime. “You have to wait four months between your last dose and your booster, so it is not something that is immediately urgent.”
The vaccine was developed by US company Novavax and is a so-called “subunit” protein vaccine. It contains small particles that mimic the coronavirus spike protein, against which the human immune system produces antibodies.
Belgium’s 510,000 doses – due to arrive from February to March – can vaccinate up to 170,000 people, the IMC said.
First come, first served
In Belgium, the vaccine will primarily be offered to people with a high risk of severe allergic reactions to the components of the vaccines currently used, and to people who have already had a severe adverse reaction after vaccination with one of these vaccines. This is estimated to concern some 3,000 people in Belgium.
“Since only a limited number of people are affected, the country’s regions are free to offer the vaccine to other groups on a ‘first come, first served’ basis,” the IMC announced in a press release.
The authorities stressed that this could include unvaccinated healthcare workers as well as people who have developed a phobia against the other vaccines, “even though their efficacy and safety has been extensively scientifically proven.”