More vaccine options critical to addressing COVID | READER COMMENTARY

An illustration shows vials with COVID-19 vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of U.S. biotech company Novavax. File. (Tribune News Service)

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Novavax’ protein-based COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older in the U.S., and in August, for adolescents aged 12 through 17. As the Novavax vaccine enters the U.S. market, the pandemic landscape is very different than it was in early 2020 when the first case of coronavirus on U.S. shores was confirmed in Washington state. Since then, we’ve been through so much as a nation. We all want desperately to claim victory over this pandemic, but it would be reckless to let up now (“Is the COVID pandemic over? President Biden says so, but Maryland experts say there are still a lot of cases and more may be coming,” Sept. 19).

We are at a critical turning point in the fight against COVID with the ongoing emergence of new variants, and we won’t put the pandemic behind us until most of the population is protected. Vaccines remain an important weapon in preventing severe illness and death, but there is still much work to be done to build vaccine confidence. A diverse portfolio of vaccine types is needed to ensure people are willing and able to take advantage of their options and decide how to best protect themselves and their loved ones.


Quite simply, having more COVID-19 vaccine options offers further protection. This is especially true in underserved areas and populations, and among those who are still holding out against immunization for a variety of reasons. Further, not all hesitance is created equal, and some are trying to understand their vaccine options. As a former practicing pediatrician, I saw firsthand many of the barriers to vaccination, and yet I also saw how worthwhile it was to make the effort to get more people vaccinated.

Still today, there are parts of the country where COVID vaccination rates remain lower than we would like. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly a quarter of American adults and 4 in 10 adolescents aged 12 through 17 remain unvaccinated. As long as people remain in danger, there is no time to deprioritize the fight.


Increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake calls for new approaches, not the same ones in greater volume. We need practical solutions to address challenges with the vaccine supply chain, distribution logistics, resources in rural regions, and vaccine hesitancy. We need vaccines that will provide broad protection, even against the strains that haven’t yet appeared, and we need vaccine technology approaches that people are comfortable with.

When the pandemic began, one of the most important public health messages conveyed was that no one is safe until everyone is safe. What was true then remains true today. We are proud of the FDA’s authorization of Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine and will continue the hard work of protecting people from the coronavirus and other infectious diseases. By offering people vaccine options, we can help to overcome this pandemic and be better prepared for those to come.

— Gregory M. Glenn, Gaithersburg

The writer is president of research and development at Novavax.

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