It is hoped the Novavax Covid jab trialled in Grampian could be approved for UK use by the end of the year – and potentially as soon as Christmas.
On Monday the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the go-ahead for the vaccine to be rolled out to EU countries.
And it is thought the UK’s equivalent body is preparing to do the same within days.
Hundreds in the north-east signed up for a clinical test of the jab, now branded Nuvaxovid, last year.
It works differently to the current Covid vaccinations on offer and has been found to be 100% effective at blocking moderate or severe illness.
Waiting for the green light
In the last few weeks, Nuvaxovid has been authorised in Indonesia and the Philippines, and given approval for emergency use by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr Roy Soiza, who headed up the vaccine trial in Grampian, wants other countries, including the UK, to follow suit.
He said: “The hope is that it will be this side of New Year, and I’m hoping it’s this week.
“I don’t know that for certain, all I know is there was a meeting yesterday [regarding vaccine approval] and there was some hope it might be the last one.
“We haven’t heard anything, so it’s possible they need a bit more information or more time to digest everything.
“Hopefully they announce something very soon.”
Why has it taken so long to approve the Novavax vaccine?
Last year more than 430 people across Grampian signed up for the double-blind placebo-controlled study of the jab.
This meant even those administering the vaccine didn’t know if it was a real dose or just a saline solution.
There were positive results – but this early optimism began to wane.
Unable to produce the jabs itself, Novavax had to subcontract the work to other firms, leading to reports the vaccines weren’t meeting the necessary standards.
However, at the beginning of November, bosses finally submitted all the evidence required to UK regulators.
Dr Soiza said: “Everyone’s been very busy with one thing or another, so it’s difficult for them to meet up and review all the evidence, which is very voluminous.
“It’s a major undertaking. And I guess there isn’t the same level of urgency as there was for AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, when we had nothing.”
North-east contribution ‘key’
The north-east’s vaccine volunteers have been praised for prompting the process that led to this milestone.
“It’s that trial that has allowed Novavax to pursue regulatory approval,” Dr Soiza added.
“There has since been another US trial, but the ball started rolling in the UK and the people of the north-east made a very significant contribution.
“I’m very grateful to all our volunteers and staff, as this was the biggest trial NHS Grampian has ever done – and it was done in a remarkable timeframe.”
He added: “It’s a shame it’s taken longer than anyone wanted to get final approval, but I have no doubt Novavax will be a very useful weapon in our fight against Covid.
“I’m sure we’ll see it being used as a booster throughout the world.”