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A fifth Covid-19 vaccine has been approved in the UK and is currently being manufactured at a plant on Teesside.

The Novavax covid vaccine, which is known by the brand name Nuvaxovid, offers up to 89 per cent protection against a variety of variants of the virus. Nuvaxovid has been produced for the over-18s to tackle the 'next phase' of the pandemic.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It's a testament to the country's first-rate research and development capabilities for vaccines. With tens of thousands of people taking part in clinical trials here in the UK, contributing to the invaluable research that shows our vaccines are safe and effective."

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said that the vaccine is safe as a first and second dose in adults. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which is made up of independent scientists will now consider using this vaccine as part of the UK vaccination programme.

Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed, who chairs the independent Commission on Human Medicines, said: "Nuvaxovid is distinct from other Covid-19 vaccines currently in use in the UK as it uses recombinant protein-based technology which has been used for many years in the development of vaccines to prevent other illnesses, for example, hepatitis B."

While the original research for the protein-based vaccine was conducted against the Wuhan and Alpha variants of Covid-19, Novavax has confirmed that two doses are effective in generating an immune response against the Omicron variant too. The company has now started working on a version specific to Omicron.

MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine, added: "Our approval of Nuvaxovid follows a rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of this vaccine, and expert advice from the government's independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines."

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