Nuvaxovid & Covovax: the 10th & 9th COVID-19 vaccines in WHO’s Emergency Use List


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Following assessment and approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), WHO has issued an emergency use listing (EUL) for Nuvaxovid on 21 December 2021. Earlier on 17 December 2021, the WHO had issued an emergency use listing (EUL) for Covovax.  

Covovax and Nuvaxoid thus become the 9th and 10th COVID-19 vaccines in WHO’s emergency use list.  

Both Nuvaxovid & Covovax vaccines are protein subunit vaccines, and use nanoparticles. These are made using recombinant nanoparticle technology to generate antigen derived from the coronavirus spike (S) protein and contain patented saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate the high levels of neutralizing antibodies.  

These two vaccines contain purified protein antigen which cannot replicate, nor can cause COVID-19 disease.  

Nuvaxovid & Covovax require two doses and are stable at 2 to 8 °C refrigerated temperatures. 

Nuvaxovid was developed by Novavax, Inc., an American biotechnology company based in Maryland. It is the is the originator product for Covovax.    

Covovax was developed by Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and is produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) under licence from Novavax. This is part of the COVAX facility portfolio, giving a much-needed boost to ongoing efforts to vaccinate more people in resource constrained settings.  

Covovax and Nuvaxoid are similar to Cuba’s Soberana 02 and Abdala in being protein-based vaccines against COVID-19 however Cuba’s vaccines specifically exploit the RBD (receptor binding domain) region of the spike protein, responsible for entry of virus into human cells while Nuvaxovid & Covovax target coronavirus spike (S) protein.  

Like Cuba’s vaccines, Nuvaxovid & Covovax also have advantage of being stable at 2-8° C and could be relatively easily tailored to make new vaccines against the mutated strains.  

The abovementioned protein-based COVID-19 vaccines differ markedly from existing COVID-19 vaccines currently in use. While mRNA vaccines (manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) carry message for expression of viral protein antigen in the human cells, adenovirus vector-based vaccines (such as Oxford/AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019 and Janssen’s) use genetically engineered adenovirus as a vector to carry spike-protein gene of novel coronavirus which is expressed in the human cells that acts as antigen for active immunity development. Further, mRNA vaccines are costly and have cold supply chain issue while adenovirus vector-based vaccines are implicated in rare side effects of Blood clot.  



  1. WHO 2021. News – WHO lists 10th COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use: Nuvaxovid. Posted 21 December 2021, Available online at  
  2. EMA 2021. News – EMA recommends Nuvaxovid for authorisation in the EU, Posted 20/12/2021. Available online at  
  3. WHO 2021. News – WHO lists 9th COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use with aim to increase access to vaccination in lower-income countries. Posted 17 December 2021. Available online at  
  4. Tian, JH., Patel, N., Haupt, R. et al. SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 immunogenicity in baboons and protection in mice. Nat Commun 12, 372 (2021).  
  5. Khan S., and Dhama K. 2021. India’s role in COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy. Journal of Travel Medicine, Volume 28, Issue 7, October 2021, taab064, Published: 16 April 2021. DOI:  
  6. Soni R., 2021.Soberana 02 and Abdala: World’s first Protein conjugate Vaccines against COVID-19. Scientific European. Posted 30 November 2021. Available online at  
  7. Prasad U. 2021. Types of COVID-19 Vaccines in Vogue: Could There be Something Amiss? Scientific European. Posted 20 January 2021. Available online at  
  8. Soni R. 2021. Future of Adenovirus based COVID-19 Vaccines (such as Oxford AstraZeneca) in light of recent finding about Cause of rare side effects of Blood clot. Scientific European. Posted 3 December 2021. Available online at  


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