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By Dania Nadeem and Carl O'Donnell
March 11 (Reuters) - Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine was 96% effective in preventing cases caused by the original version of the coronavirus in a late-stage trial conducted in the United Kingdom, the company said on Thursday, moving it a step closer to regulatory approval.
The vaccine was also about 86% effective in protecting against the more contagious virus variant first discovered and now prevalent in the UK.
It was only around 55% effective in a separate, smaller trial in South Africa, where volunteers were primarily exposed to another newer, more contagious variant that is widely circulating there and spreading around the world.
In both trials, the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing serious illness and death.
Results from the final analysis of the UK trial were largely in line with interim data released in January, which also showed the Novavax shot to be 96% effective against the original version of the coronavirus and around 86% effective against UK variant.
The company expects to use the data to submit for regulatory authorization in various countries. It is not clear when it will seek U.S. authorization or if regulators will require it to complete an ongoing trial in the United States. (Reporting by Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot)