LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A COVID-19 vaccine tested in Polk County is 90.4% effective in protecting recipients against the virus, Novavax announced Monday.

One hundred and seventy seven people initially enrolled in the double blind Lakeland-based trial through Accel Research Sites.

“If we can do something to help somebody else by being in the trials, that’s what we wanted to do,” said Sandy Raulerson, who participated in the trial with her husband Bo.

The retired school teacher said it felt like a new kind of education.

“I retired in 2017 and so anything that I can learn, it always fascinates me. So I was very interested in the whole process,” she said.

Seventeen people dropped out, according to Accel’s primary investigator.

Recipients received four shots total, both the placebo and the vaccine, over several months.

Of the 29,960 people who participated in North America, 14 people who received the vaccine got COVID-19. They were all mild cases, results show.

“I was very heartened throughout the entire process,” said Dr. James Andersen, Accel Research Sites’ principal investigator for the Novavax vaccine trial in Lakeland. “It reassures everybody that the vaccine is heavily effective no matter what’s coming our way because these are the variants that could be headed this way, were in this study.”

Novavax is hoping for FDA authorization later this year.

“The U.S. is going to need booster shots later this year and I think our vaccine will be very useful for that,” Novavax CEO Stanley Erck said.

The Novavax vaccines can be stored in refrigerators.

The company says that will make it more accessible to low-income countries.

“The world has to be vaccinated to prevent this to stop the pandemic, and and our vaccine is one of the tools in that toolkit,” said Erck.

Thirty teenagers are currently enrolled in the Novavax adolescent trial in Lakeland.

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