The effectiveness of a University of Queensland (UQ) vaccine against the coronavirus is about to be tested in a biosecurity facility in the Netherlands.
The vaccine will be used on live coronavirus for the first time to determine how effectively it induces protection against infection.
Clinical studies will be conducted by Viroclinics Xplore, which offers myriad pre-clinical tests including toxicology of drugs, antibodies, and antivirals targeting viral infectious diseases.
UQ created COVID-19 in its laboratory and then set about designing a vaccine to combat the virus.
The vaccine locks the “spike” protein into a shape that allows the immune system to be able to recognise and neutralise it.
UQ’s Professor Trent Munro said beginning a large multi-arm study at Viroclinics Xplore is critical before human testing because it would establish a more comprehensive understanding of how the vaccine performs.
Testing the vaccine is part of an international fight to eradicate COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation has launched Solidarity, an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19.
More than 90 companies and academic institutions around the world have so far joined to work on a vaccine, with at least four starting animal testing.
The first of these, produced by Boston-based biotech firm Moderna, will enter human trials imminently.
“The pressure COVID-19 puts on health systems means that WHO considered the need for speed and scale in the trial. While randomised clinical trials normally take years to design and conduct, the Solidarity trial will reduce the time taken by 80 per cent,” the WHO said in a statement.
The answer to the vaccine will come through science, says WHO’s Dr Jeremy Farrar.
“We need diagnostics to detect and limit the spread of this virus, vaccines to provide long-term protection, treatments to save lives in the shorter-term, and social science to understand the behavioural and societal implications,” Dr Farrar said.
“It’s critical that the global research effort is rapid, robust, and is conducted at scale and co-ordinated across multiple countries.”
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