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UPDATE 1-EU regulator begins real-time review of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

(Adds details from statement, background)

Feb 3 (Reuters) - Europe’s health regulator said on Wednesday it had launched a real-time review of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine to speed up potential approvals as the region reels from surging infections due to variants of the novel coronavirus.

The human medicines committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will review data from ongoing trials of the U.S.-based company's vaccine until there is enough clinical data for approval, the regulator said. (bit.ly/2Len9jR)

Last month, Novavax said its shot was about 89% effective in preventing the illness in a British trial and was nearly as effective in protecting against the more highly contagious variant first discovered in the island nation.

In December, the European Union said it concluded preliminary talks with Novavax to secure up to 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373.

“Rolling reviews” could speed up the process of approving a successful vaccine by allowing researchers to submit their findings in real-time, even before the final trial data is ready.

Europe has so far authorised the use of COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech , Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford to stymie cases in a region that has reported more than 30 million COVID-19 infections. (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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