Human trials for UQ's COVID-19 vaccine commence

Human trials for UQ's COVID-19 vaccine commence

The University of Queensland (UQ) has reached a milestone in the development of a "promising" COVID-19 vaccine with human trials to commence today.

Volunteers will receive the first vaccine dose today in Brisbane as part of a trial of UQ's vaccine run by early phase clinical trial specialist Nucleus Network.

In April, early pre-clinical trials of the vaccine demonstrated that it was able to raise high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus.

UQ was tasked by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, supported by an initial investment of up to US$4.5 million, and is collaborating with the Peter Doherty Institute to demonstrate and understand its immune response.

Queensland Innovation Minister Kate Jones says the state has now joined a small group of vaccine developers around the world who are moving out of the lab and into human trials.

"Queensland boasts one of the most promising vaccine candidates on the planet," says Jones.

"We asked Queenslanders to roll up their sleeves to save lives and they've answered the call in droves.

"We needed up to 120 volunteers for the first stage. More than 4000 people have put up their hands to volunteer."

One of the UQ COVID-19 vaccine research leaders Professor Paul Young says the first human trial was about evaluating the safety and immune response of the vaccine in a group of healthy volunteers.

"The green light to move into this human trial follows extensive pre-clinical testing that the team has been conducting since first selecting the lead vaccine candidate on 14 February," Professor Young said.

"This testing showed that the vaccine was effective in the lab in neutralising the virus and safe to give to humans."

Professor Young says once human testing was under way, researchers expect to have preliminary results after about three months.

"We'll hold a collective breath while we wait to see how the trial goes," he said.

"But if all goes well, we can move to the next stage in the vaccine's development a larger trial with a much bigger group of people from a range of ages to see if the vaccine works across the board."

The clinical batch of vaccine for use in the trial was a manufactured by a close partnership between UQ and CSIRO with technical assistance by Australian biotech company CSL, Brisbane based Thermo Fisher and Swedish company Cytiva.

The news comes as Australia records 192 new cases of COVID-19 overnight.

The majority of the cases are in Victoria, with 177 new cases including 151 under investigation.

There have also been 14 new cases in New South Wales, with four of those tracing back to the Crossroads Hotel outbreak.

Updated at 1:30pm AEST on 13 July 2020.

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