The Novavax vaccine may be an acceptable option for some of the 27,000 service members who have sought religious exemptions from the mandatory vaccine. Military officials say many troops who refuse the shots cite certain COVID-19 vaccines’ remote connection to abortions.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory last year, saying the shots were critical to maintaining military readiness and the health of the force. Military leaders have argued that troops for decades have been required to get as many as 17 vaccines, particularly for those who are deploying overseas.
One group involved in lawsuits targeting the military’s vaccine requirement said it’s possible some shot opponents may see Novavax as an amenable option. “I definitely think it is for some, but certainly not for all,” said Mike Berry, director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute. “There are some for whom abortion is really the ultimate issue, and once that issue is resolved for them spiritually, then they’re willing.”
Others object because they believe it’s God’s will that they don’t get the vaccine.
The Novavax vaccine is made with a more familiar technology, like those used for years to prevent hepatitis B and shingles. It trains the body to fight the coronavirus by delivering copies of the outer coating which are grown in insect cells, then are purified and packaged into nanoparticles that to the immune system resemble a virus, according to Novavax research chief Dr. Gregory Glenn.
In Novavax’s nearly 30,000 patient trial, conducted between December 2020 and September 2021, there were four cases of a type of heart inflammation called myocarditis detected within 20 days of taking the protein-based shot.
One patient in the trial reported myocarditis after receiving a placebo.
“Based on our interpretation of all the clinical data supporting NVX-CoV2373 … we believe there is insufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship,” the company said in a statement.