By Juliano Oliveira
Volunteers aged 56 and over are being called for a new round of tests following the initial positive results reached by University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Researchers are expecting 96 people to take part in clinical trials. In July, 120 volunteers aged between 18 and 55 participated in the first stage of the tests.
“I offer my thanks to the more than 100 Queenslanders who answered the call to take part in the first round of clinical trials,” Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Steven Miles said.
“Today we’re putting the call out to 96 Queenslanders aged 56 and over to take part in clinical trials.
“This pandemic is the biggest challenge we’ve ever had to face.
“By taking part in these clinical trials, you could play a very real role in saving lives.”
Innovation Minister Kate Jones is hopeful that more Queenslanders will help the scientists to fast-track the vaccine development.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. Today’s announcement is a great step in the right direction,” Ms Jones said.
“This vaccine has the potential to save millions of lives.
“We’re urging Queenslanders to answer the call – make history by being part of the most important clinical trials that will be conducted in our generation.
“The team at UQ have been working night and day to deliver a vaccine for coronavirus. Their work is paying off.”
Scientists are now expanding the phase 1 of the trial as a preventive measure to evaluate how safe is the vaccine among the elderly and the immune response obtained.
UQ vaccine project co-leader Professor Paul Young said that as most people are now aware, COVID-19 appears to be more severe in older individuals.
“We’re looking to ensure that this vaccine candidate is safe for use in older people, and we’re hoping Queenslanders get behind us and sign up,” he said.
“By conducting this expanded safety study, we’ll gather key data to support the large-scale efficacy trials that our partners at CSL are planning to run in the near future.”
The Phase 1 trial is being conducted at Nucleus Network’s Brisbane clinic in which 48 volunteers between 56-65 years of age and another 48 volunteers aged 66 years and over will be recruited.
“We’d encourage anyone in this age bracket who would like to make a difference in this challenging time to get in touch and we can assess their suitability for this important trial,” Nucleus Network’s Principal Investigator Associate Professor Paul Griffin said.
“Participants are generally required to be in good health, and any existing medical conditions need to have been stable for the last few months.
Project director Professor Trent Munro said early safety results from the human trials had been positive, indicating the vaccine was generally well-tolerated in healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55.
“We’re moving as quickly as is safely possible, and it’s now time for Queenslanders to step up again.”
Fellow project co-leader Associate Professor Keith Chappell said for older Queenslanders – if there ever was a time to volunteer – it was now.
“If you’ve ever wanted to get involved and make a difference, and you fit the requirements for this trial, definitely consider stepping up to help us beat COVID-19,” he said.
“We’re working on a very compressed timeline – aiming to start this study in just a couple of weeks.”