Novavax COVID vaccine gets final ATAGI approval, rollout to start in February

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine has been given the final green light needed for it to be added to Australia’s vaccine rollout.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has approved the vaccine for people aged 18 and over.

ATAGI’s approval is the final regulatory hurdle the vaccine had to pass after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved it last week.

The vaccine course will be two doses, administered three weeks apart.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said if all goes to plan, Novavax should be available next month.

“We’ll be able to commence that program from the week of February 21,” he said.

“For some, who may have had … reactions with regards to other vaccines, this will provide an additional opportunity for them, as well as those who for whatever reason have not taken up the program so far.”

The government has ordered 51 million doses of the vaccine, with the head of the TGA, John Skerritt, flagging last week that some of those doses may end up being given away as part of Australia’s vaccine donation program.

Speaking when the TGA approved Novavax last Thursday, Professor Skerritt also said he was aware of people who had been waiting for the vaccine to be approved and hoped it would lead to an even further increase in the national vaccination rate.

“The technology on which it is made is an older technology, it uses a protein,” he said.

“I would have had several hundred emails from individuals and groups who have said for whatever reason we would like to have [this] particular vaccine … this just gives them further choice.”