It could take ten to 15 months before a COVID-19 vaccine in available, Industry, Science and Technology minister Karen Andrews said.
The CSIRO is currently testing two vaccines, one from the US and one from the UK, Ms Andrews said.
“Until we have a vaccine, life is not going to return to normal. So whilst we have seen easing of restrictions, particularly over the last weekend, we still have a long way to go and it’s important that we all take baby steps,” she said.
Earlier this month, the Australian government announced it would be spending $220 million upgrading the CSIRO’s Geelong laboratory, where the vaccines are being tested.
The grant will be used upgrade the facility’s four main laboratories.
An extra $10 million has been given to the CSIRO to support its work on testing COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking to reporters, Ms Andrews defended the CSIRO’s past research involving bats but said no projects were currently being undertaken involving the animals.
Last month, the Daily Telegraph reported that two Chinese scientists who had worked at the CSIRO on research involving bats were being investigated by intelligence officials.
US President Donald Trump has previously said that the US was looking into whether the virus accidentally leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.
Ms Andrews said that the CSIRO’s past research on bats needed to be looked at in a broader context.
“It is very important for us to note that 75 percent of viruses do come from animals and bats are certainly one of the sources of that and the classic example is the Hendra virus which went from bats to horses to humans,” Ms Andrews said.
“So, you cannot criticise it as a standalone batch of research you actually have to look at it in context, and it’s very important that we make sure that we have in place, all of the tools that we can to make sure that we are doing the research properly and managing the risks.”
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