Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
Coronaviruses are the common cause of respiratory infections in humans – it’s one of the pathogens that can cause the common cold. However, some strains are much more dangerous.
The COVID-19 novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus affecting humans, and we are still learning about it.
There is currently no specific vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 infection.
The search for a global vaccine
On 22 March 2020, Advance Queensland announced $10 million funding from the Queensland Government Advance Queensland initiative to fast-track a promising vaccine for COVID-19 being worked on by the University of Queensland’s (UQ) School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.
The research team includes Professor Paul Young, Professor Trent Munro, Dr Keith Chappell and Dr David Watterson.
Nobel Laureate and world-renowned immunologist Professor Peter Doherty said this is one of the most promising vaccine approaches on the horizon globally.
UQ is one of two Australian organisations and one of only nine globally to be tasked by the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
There are around 100 companies and entities worldwide developing a COVID-19 vaccine – all with different approaches from that of UQ.
On 5 June 2020, one of Australia’s largest health companies and global pharmaceuticals giant CSL Ltd entered into a partnership with CEPI and UQ to manufacture the vaccine, to enable the human clinical trials. CSL Ltd will also manufacture the vaccine for global distribution if human trials are successful. This makes the UQ vaccine one of only a few in the world to secure a manufacturing deal of this kind, which shows it has real promise to help the world to tackle the pandemic.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic and civil organisations to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. Its aim is to advance COVID-19 vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible.
CSL is a leading global biotechnology company with a portfolio of life-saving medicines, including those that treat haemophilia and immune deficiencies, as well as vaccines to protect communities from seasonal influenza and global influenza pandemic threats. CSL — including its two businesses, CSL Behring and Seqirus — provides life-saving products to more than 60 countries and employs over 25,000 people.