Australian coronavirus vaccine shows 'good level of protection' with zero side affects in human trials, according to researchers

·2-min read
Countries race to develop a coronavirus vaccine (file photo): AP
Countries race to develop a coronavirus vaccine (file photo): AP

A coronavirus vaccine has so far shown "no safety concerns" in human trials, according to a team of Australian researchers.

Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) and Australian biotech giant CSL have also administered the drug to hamsters in the Netherlands.

The clinical trial data, released on Tuesday, shows how the vaccine triggers the immune system to protect against the disease, the scientists said.

Project co-leader Associate Professor Keith Chappell said the immune system response from the animals was "better than the average level of antibodies found in patients who have recovered from Covid-19".

He told ABC News that the UQ vaccine's phase 1 human trials were going well and there were "absolutely no safety concerns with all the participants dosed so far".

Twenty out of 120 volunteers recruited for the vaccine were given a dose this week.

Magdalena Plebanski, a professor of immunology at RMIT University, warned that it was still early days and "we still don't know whether it will induce an immune response in humans".

Australia prime minister Scott Morrison (left) takes a tour at the AstraZeneca laboratories in Sydney (Getty Images)
Australia prime minister Scott Morrison (left) takes a tour at the AstraZeneca laboratories in Sydney (Getty Images)

"They are thinking about the next step, about scale-up and production, and they have shown scale-up is possible," said Professor Plebanski.

The UQ vaccine trial says it is the first to release data on hamster modelling.

"Following a single dose, we see a really good level of protection against virus in the lung," said Dr Chappell.

"Around half of the animals had no virus at all detected in the lungs and the other half had reduced levels.

"We saw a marked reduction in the severity of the disease in the hamsters."

The UQ vaccine has been in human trials since early July.

It uses "molecular clamp" technology and differs from the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine trial which is currently going through phase two and phase three trials to confirm if it effectively protects against the virus.

Last week the Australian government ordered 25 million doses of the Oxford vaccine as Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to make the vaccine "as mandatory as you can".

Queensland’s Innovation Minister Kate Jones said the results were a huge milestone in the development of a Queensland vaccine.

“A vaccine is vital in putting an end to this pandemic," said Ms Jones. "That’s why the government has thrown its support behind UQ with $10 million (£5.4 million) in funding to fast-track this research.

“The sooner we can produce a coronavirus vaccine, the sooner life will get back to normal for millions of Queenslanders who have been impacted by this pandemic.”

The UQ team of researchers said they are preparing to submit their findings to a research journal for peer review.

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