By Genevieve Waldie
Scientists from the University of Queensland are ready to start pre-clinical trials as they are obtaining solid progress in the race to develop a vaccine for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Team Leader Professor Paul Young, head of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, says they developed over 100 potential vaccine candidates in the last few weeks and are now ready to proceed to pre-clinical testing with one of their vaccine candidates.
“All this pre-clinical work we’re hoping to get done by the middle of this year, and so by June or thereabouts, we will be putting forward human ethics proposals to take this vaccine forward into what will be the first, or the phase 1 clinical study in human volunteers here in Brisbane.”
The pre-clinical phase will involve animal immune response trials using the vaccine. Further vaccine development will be conducted in partnership with CSIRO facilities in Victoria.
The UQ team have worked around the clock since the coronavirus genome sequence was made available in January. The scientists are working in partnership with the CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation) based in Norway and one of only 3 facilities globally chosen to fast-track a vaccine response.
United Nations Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock has released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.
The announcement came as the World Health Organization upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to “very high” – its top level of risk assessment. The WHO has said there is still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission is broken.
The organization has called for US$675 million to fund the fight against coronavirus. There is a window of opportunity to contain the spread of the virus if countries take robust measures to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients, and trace contacts.
For further information;
. Coronavirus health information line (Dept of Health) 1800 020 080
. Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/australian-health-sector-emergency-response-plan-for-novel-coronavirus-covid-19