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Novavax begins vaccinating children in trial at University of Maryland School of Medicine

Another COVID vaccine maker, Gaithersburg-based Novavax, has begun testing its inoculation’s effectiveness in adolescents, and the first kids ages 12-17 were injected this week at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The trial launched earlier this month nationwide. It will test the coronavirus vaccine on 3,000 kids at 75 sites and increase the likelihood that one more vaccine will soon be available for children.

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“We hope to build upon the encouraging safety and efficacy data generated to-date in adults for our vaccine candidate and to play a significant global role in offering vaccination to as many people as possible across age groups to end the suffering caused by the pandemic,” Dr. Gregory M. Glenn, Novavax’s president of research and development, said in a statement.

Novavax has yet to obtain emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use its vaccine on anyone because of manufacturing and other delays, though the vaccine already showed strong results that rival other vaccines in use. The company plans to submit final data to the FDA next month, and the vaccine could be available for adults this summer.

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That would add to the U.S. supply, where Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines already are abundant. But the company has pledged doses to other countries where vaccine is far more limited.

The vaccine requires two doses but only refrigeration, rather than a deep freeze for storage as is needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That makes it an attractive alternative in some settings.

The company said it will work in tandem on the vaccine’s authorization for adults and children, and also a booster for variants.

Maryland and other states began giving the Pfizer shot to 12-to-15-year-olds Thursday. It already was available for those ages 16 and 17. Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are assessing their vaccines’ safety and effectiveness in children too.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health has been a center of vaccine trial activity, and a university researcher also contributed to the science behind the Novavax vaccine.

But the availability of the Pfizer vaccine hasn’t hindered recruitment at Maryland because participants want to aid in the scientific endeavor, officials said.

Officials said volunteers include the son of a teacher who has been aiding others obtain vaccine appointments and a Filipino teen who wanted to help ensure vaccine supplies increase in other countries including the Philippines.

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