Washington (AFP)

US biotechnology company Novavax, which has received $ 1.6 billion from Washington to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, announced Tuesday that its experimental vaccine had produced high levels of antibodies in a few dozen volunteers.

Novavax is one of six companies in which Donald Trump's government has invested heavily since March.

The two most advanced Western projects in terms of clinical trials are those of the British University of Oxford, allied with the AstraZeneca laboratory, and the American biotech Moderna, associated with the American Institutes of Health, which have both launched their trials phase 3 on thousands and, ultimately, tens of thousands of participants.

But the first phase of clinical vaccine trials still involves a few dozen healthy participants, in order to verify that the vaccine is not toxic, and to see if it triggers an initial immune response.

Participants in this phase 1 trial of Novavax, which included 131 people in Australia, including 50 with placebos, developed antibodies after the first dose of the vaccine, including neutralizing antibodies for "many of them," says the company in a press release.

After the second dose, all vaccinated participants developed neutralizing antibodies.

The experimental vaccine also triggered a T cell response, the other part of the immune response against a virus.

The injections caused side effects, including injection pain, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. After the second dose, the effects were more severe, but none reached serious level, according to Novavax.

These results have been submitted for publication by a scientific journal. So far, they have not been assessed independently.

If this vaccine were to prove its worth after larger trials, it would be the first to be authorized from biotech. Donald Trump visited the experimental doses production site last week.

© 2020 AFP