A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Queensland scientists could be ready for use as early as the start of next year, with clinical trials on volunteers already underway.
Drug company CSL has partnered with University of Queensland scientists to fast-track the vaccine and make ‘several million’ antigen doses this year before the human trials are finished.
If clinical trials are successful and it is approved by health regulators, CSL will produce ‘hundreds of millions’ of doses of the drug in 2021.
Team leader Professor Paul Young said they hope the vaccine will be ready for emergency use by the New Year, with wide-scale distribution slated for mid-to-late 2021.
Drug company CSL has partnered with University of Queensland scientists to fast-track the vaccine and make ‘several million’ antigen doses before the human trials are finished. Pictured: A vaccine volunteer in Brisbane on Monday
Drug company CSL has partnered with University of Queensland scientists to fast-track the vaccine and make ‘several million’ antigen doses before the human trials are finished
If clinical trials are successful and it is approved by health regulators, drug company CSL will produce ‘hundreds of millions’ doses of the drug in 2021
‘Whilst these studies are underway, we will still be working in the background along with our partners CSL to advance the manufacturing, so we have this vaccine at scale when it’s needed,’ Prof Young said on Monday.
The University of Queensland scientists are developing and manufacturing the promising treatment simultaneously, in what is an Australian first.
Professor Young’s team has been working around the clock for five months – which he says has felt like three years – to have the vaccine ready in a previously unheard of timeframe.
‘To see us at this stage of clinical testing a mere five months after we selected our lead vaccine candidate to what was essentially a newly emerging global infectious disease threat is simply remarkable,’ he said.
More than 4000 Queenslanders put their hands up to participate in the trial, which researchers hope will be a breakthrough in combating the virus.
The 120 volunteers chosen will receive a dosage of the vaccine twice at four-week intervals, and be monitored to determine its safety and the immune response triggered.
More than 4000 Queenslanders put their hands up to participate in the trial which researchers hope will be a breakthrough in combating the virus
The human testing of the ‘molecular clamp’ vaccine candidate follows encouraging results from animal trials conducted in the Netherlands.
CSL hopes the prototype vaccine passes the three-stage proving process and becoming licensed.
‘A portion of these (doses) will be used in phase II/III clinical studies, with the remainder available as soon as marketing authorisation is granted,’ a company spokesman said.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 9,980
New South Wales: 3,492
Western Australia: 635
South Australia: 443
Australian Capital Territory: 113
Northern Territory: 30
TOTAL CASES: 9,980
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 1,661
‘We anticipate producing tens of millions of doses during 2021, which would be made available subject to safety and efficacy data generated by trials as well as regulatory approval.
‘Initially, CSL will manufacture vaccine from its biotech manufacturing facility at Broadmeadows. Further scale-up of production to hundreds of millions of doses will be achieved in partnership with a contract manufacturer.’
CSL said it is already in early discussions with global manufacturers regarding production.
There are more than 130 vaccines in the works around the world but University of Queensland’s work is believed to have shown great success in the pre-clinical stage of development.
‘We know that the best way to unite and recover as an economy is to crack the vaccine and it’s wonderful that Queensland is now leading the charge globally in tackling the coronavirus vaccine,’ Minister for Innovation Kate Jones said.
‘We are doing this in record time.’
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the vaccine could be worth ‘millions if not billions’ of dollars to Australia.
‘That has always been the missing piece … we have to get overseas companies to do that production. (This time) it can be made here locally and distributed internationally,’ she said.