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 included Professor Paul Young, Professor Trent Munro, Dr Keith Chappell and Dr David Watterson.
On 5 June 2020, one of Australia’s largest health companies and global pharmaceuticals giant CSL Ltd entered a partnership with CEPI and UQ to manufacture the vaccine, to enable the human clinical trials.
On 13 July 2020 we announced the vaccine had started Phase 1 human clinical trials, with the first volunteers receiving a vaccine dose in Brisbane.
Phase 1 clinical trials have now been completed and the vaccine will not progress to Phase 2/3 trials.
The Phase 1 trials showed the vaccine was effective, but some of the antibodies it produced gave false positives for some HIV tests. There is no safety issue and follow up tests confirmed the false positive reading in all participants who demonstrated a positive result.
Early indications are that the antibody levels decline, but at this stage it is too early to tell how long they will be detectable for. Participants will continue to be monitored.
The Phase 1 trial will continue, where further analysis of the data will show how long the antibodies persist, with studies so far showing that levels are already falling. The University of Queensland plans to submit the full data for peer review publication in the future.
This decision shows that a vaccine won’t be rushed out – development is thorough and considered and the public should have confidence in these processes.
We are proud and grateful for the incredibly hard work of our scientists and researchers and will continue to support those working on great ideas to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on the world.
Please see the full statement on the University of Queensland website.