Australian scientists begin tests of potential coronavirus vaccines

Australian scientists begin tests of potential coronavirus vaccines
CSIRO scientists are testing two vaccine options. Source: CSIRO
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Daily US Times, Canberra: Scientists in Australia have begun testing two potential coronavirus vaccines made by US company Inovio Pharmaceutical and Oxford University.

Both vaccines have been cleared for animal testing by the World Health Organization.

Australia’s national science agency will assess the vaccines wheater it is working, and if they would be safe for humans.

The first human trial for coronavirus vaccine took place in the US last month but skipped a stage of animal testing.

There are several other vaccine developments occurring around the world right now at extraordinary speed. It is known that there are at least 20 vaccines in development around the world.

But Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) claimes its tests will be the first comprehensive pre-clinical trials of the vaccines to use an animal model.

Researchers described the speed and level of global co-operation to make a vaccine that led to this stage had been unprecedented.

On Thursday, Dr Rob Grenfell from the CSIRO said: “Normally it takes about one-to-two years to get to this point and we’ve in fact shortened that to a period of a couple of months.”

How it will work?

Scientists have inserted vaccines samples into ferrets – small, furry mammals which have been proven to contract the coronavirus in the same way humans do.

Sars-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the disease Covid-19.

The CSIRO is testing two options selected by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global consortium overseeing most of this research.

One option, developed by the University of Oxford, is a vector vaccine. It uses a “defective” virus to introduce the proteins of the coronavirus to the immune system and induce a response.

The testing is being carried out in the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Victoria. Director of the lab Prof Trevor Drew said: “But they’re not able to replicate… so there’s no possibility of becoming ill through this particular vaccine.”

The other vaccine – from Inovio – as “rather different but nonetheless exciting”, he described.

Prof Drew appreciates the importance of multi-pronged approach to this as it gives us the best chance of success.

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