A COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and pharmaceutical giant CSL (ASX: CSL) is tracking "ahead of schedule", with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt claiming it should be ready for deployment in mid-2021.
Speaking today at UQ, Minister Hunt said the vaccine was proving to be safe and producing a positive antibody response.
"That means it's doing its job," Hunt said.
The Minister said CSL had completed manufacturing of the vaccine for Phase 3 clinical trials, which are already in a position to commence once regulatory approval is granted.
"That may come as a positive surprise to many people here in Australia and around the world, but what it shows is that we are ahead of schedule," Hunt said.
"As a consequence, CSL will now move for regulatory approval to commit to phase three clinical trials before the end of this year, and that's an extraordinary development.
"It means that this vaccine will potentially be available, subject to the results of those trials, for delivery to Australians early in the third quarter of 2021."
Hunt also said the vaccine had so far demonstrated it was particularly good at producing a positive antibody response in the elderly.
"That's an especially important outcome, given the global vulnerability to elderly around the world from COVID-19," he said.
The Federal Government recently signed an agreement with CSL to acquire 51 million doses of the vaccine.
In addition, agreements have been reached with other developers of vaccine candidates like AstraZeneca, Novavax and Pfizer to ensure those wanting to be vaccinated in Australia will be by the end of 2021.
"The vaccines are on track to do what they are intended to do, and that's to save lives," Hunt said.
"We've invested $5 million in the research as a Commonwealth Government.
"It's an Australian vaccine, but for the world."
Updated at 12.19pm AEDT on 13 November 2020.
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