Novavax (NVAX 0.10%) announced last month that its coronavirus vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, induced antibodies in all participants treated in its phase 1 clinical trial. But investors can now take a closer look at the exact levels of antibody production in the peer-reviewed data that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

Patients given the vaccine combined with Matrix-M adjuvant, which increases the immune response to the coronavirus protein in the vaccine, developed levels of antibodies able to bind to the novel coronavirus that were at a similar level to patients who were exposed to the novel coronavirus but were largely asymptomatic. After a booster dose, the antibody levels increased to at least six times what was seen in symptomatic outpatient patients who had COVID-19 and reached similar levels to patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Novavax also looked specifically at neutralizing antibodies, which not only bind to the novel coronavirus but do so in a way that blocks the virus from infecting the patient's cells. After the second vaccination, participants receiving the adjuvanted vaccine had levels of neutralizing antibodies that were four times greater than symptomatic outpatients with COVID-19, and about half the level seen in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Healthcare working showing a syringe to a child

Image source: Getty Images.

In addition to inducing the production of antibodies, the adjuvanted vaccine also induced a response from T cells, which are responsible for seeking out infected cells and destroying them before the infection can spread.

Novavax has started the phase 2 portion of the study in the U.S. and Australia. It's also testing the vaccine in a phase 2b study in South Africa.

The biotech trails multiple coronavirus vaccine-makers in phase 3 development, but may still have an opportunity to capture some patients if the leaders aren't able to show their vaccines protect against COVID-19, or aren't able to manufacture enough vaccine to meet demand.