The Novavax vaccine has been approved for use in Australia, becoming the first protein-based COVID-19 vaccine in the country’s arsenal.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Thursday the Therapeutic Goods Administration had given its approval for the vaccine.
Australia has ordered 51 million doses, with the first shipment due in the coming month.
“We know that some people have waited for this vaccine, and … hopefully this will encourage those people in the last five per cent to come forward,” Mr Hunt said.
The next stage will be approval by the Australian advisory group on immunisation.
Mr Hunt said subject to that approval, the vaccine — which is given in two doses 21 days apart — will be made available over the coming weeks through state clinics, GPs and pharmacies.
TGA boss Professor John Skerritt said his agency was only the second major regulator in the world to approve the protein vaccine known as NUVAXOVID.
“Our dream is to turn 95 per cent (vaccination rate) into 97 or 98 per cent,” he told reporters.
He said the company had yet to submit data relating to its use as a booster or for people aged under 18, but when a submission was made the regulator would work through it as quickly as possible.
Trials had shown the vaccine had over 90 per cent efficacy with “no strong signals of adverse events”, Professor Skerritt said.
Protein vaccines use a non-infectious component found on the surface of the coronavirus and are manufactured in cells in a laboratory.
After vaccination, immune cells recognise the vaccine protein as foreign and launch an immune response against it.