Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by U.S. biotech firm Novavax has been underwhelming in the European Union’s main countries in the early rollout, so far undermining hopes that it could convince vaccine skeptics to get a shot.
Over 85% of adults in the 27-country EU bloc have received at least one dose and nearly two-thirds of them have also had a booster, but tens of millions remain unvaccinated.
The Novavax vaccine, which began to be sold in February, the latest to receive the EU regulators’ approval under the trade name of Nuvaxovid, was expected to persuade some skeptics because it is based on a more conventional technology than the other four vaccines authorized so far in the EU.
But initial data on Nuvaxovid’s rollout show that it has had a small impact on vaccination campaigns.
In Germany, the EU’s most populous country and home to more than 10 million unvaccinated people, only about 36,000 Novavax doses were administered in the first two weeks since the start of the rollout on Feb. 24, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute.
In March so far on average, nearly 90,000 COVID vaccines have been administered daily in Germany, mostly boosters. Only 2% of them were Novavax’s, despite over 2 million doses distributed to the country.
A similar situation is emerging in Italy, where less than 12,000 Nuvaxovid doses have been administered in the first ten days of the rollout, which started on Feb. 28, with the delivery of one million vaccines. In the same period, the country injected over 70,000 COVID-19 vaccines a day, largely boosters.
Novavax said its protein-based shot will play a role in driving vaccination among those who have been hesitant to get immunized and it has started an educational effort on vaccine choices.