COVID vaccine

Chicago Could See AstraZeneca, Novavax COVID Vaccines by Spring, Arwady Says

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Two new coronavirus vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax could potentially be approved in the U.S. by spring, according to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

The city's top doctor said the AstaZeneca COVID-19 vaccine could appear before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sometime in April, as it is already used in other areas of the world.

"In addition to the three that have been approved or have been authorized here in the U.S., we're keeping our eye on AstraZeneca," Arwady said Thursday. "It's already in use in Europe and some other countries and it's been, you know, it's been having its studies here... we'll see. They weren't done yet, but there's been some speculation that, you know, possibly in April we could see that vaccine."

Arwady noted the AtraZeneca vaccine "has performed well broadly," but there were concerns it may not be as effective against the coronavirus variant that emerged in South Africa.

"There's been some extra attention sort of looking at looking at the vaccine in that context, but it has generally also been a very good vaccine," Arwady said. "And I wouldn't be surprised if we see that one potentially going, you know, getting put before the FDA in April."

Novavax, which is the lesser known of the remaining vaccines, Arwady said, is another one she's monitoring. She added that the vaccine could seek FDA approval by May.

"Hundreds of companies have been sort of looking at vaccines, but I'd say Novavax is the other one here in the U.S. and I'm kind of keeping my eye on going further behind in the trials, but their initial data looked good," she said. "Could that be sort of May for another vaccine? I think possibly."

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Already, Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been circulating across the U.S., both requiring two shots for full protection. According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S., which include the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, each offer some level of protection.

To compare each of the three coronavirus vaccines available to Illinois residents, click here.

The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

Published results from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel showed Pfizer's vaccine was 92% effective at preventing severe disease after two shots and 62% after one. Its estimated effectiveness for preventing death was 72% two to three weeks after the first shot, a rate that may improve as immunity builds over time. Meanwhile, the Moderna vaccine provides a similar level of protection, 94.1%, and requires two shots, 28 days apart.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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