By Juliano Oliveira
Human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine will start today (13) at the University of Queensland (UQ).
The first vaccine dose will be given to 120 volunteers whose safety and immune response to it will be evaluated.
One of the UQ COVID-19 research leaders Professor Paul Young said the previous tests showed that the vaccine was effective in the lab in neutralising the virus and safe to give to humans.
Preliminary results of the first stage of the trials are expected in three months. “But if all goes well, we can move to the next stage in the vaccine’s development – a larger trial with a much bigger group of people from a range of ages to see if the vaccine works across the board,” affirms Professor Young.
Innovation Minister Kate Jones said that the success of the research has the eyes of the world in Queensland.
“Today makes me proud to be a Queenslander. Our vaccine – made in Queensland by Queenslanders could save millions of lives throughout the world.”
“Queensland boasts one of the most promising vaccine candidates on the planet,” she said.
“We needed up to 120 volunteers for the first stage. More than 4000 people have put up their hands to volunteer.”
The clinical batch of vaccine for use in the trial was manufactured by a close partnership between UQ and CSIRO with technical assistance by Australian biotech company CSL, Brisbane based Thermo Fisher and Swedish company Cytiva.
Project Director Professor Trent Munro said that if everything goes well, “they’ll rapidly advance the production of millions of doses and move the program into later-stage clinical testing, regulatory approval, large-scale manufacture and distribution.”
Nucleus Network Principal Investigator and infectious diseases expert Associate Professor Paul Griffin said as Australia’s largest Phase 1 clinical trials provider, the company had a distinct advantage for accelerating vaccine trials.
“We have a rich history as a company in Phase 1 vaccine trials and are well-positioned to implement rapid testing with first-in human trials of UQ’s potential vaccine,” Associate Professor Griffin said.
“Our Brisbane clinic location in the renowned Herston health precinct, with access to some of the best clinical expertise and facilities in Australia, allows us to conduct highly specialised clinical trials. From vaccines and infectious diseases, through to biosimilars and malaria studies, we are putting Queensland on the global map of gold standard clinical trials.”
The University of Queensland was tasked by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus in January, supported by an initial investment of up to US$4.5 million.