Queensland University begins human trials of its plausible COVID Vaccine; joins Flinders University in the race

COVID Vaccine - Human Trials by Queensland University
August 01, 2020
Author : Frank Barnes

Queensland University researchers have received a Go-Ahead to begin 1st phase of clinical trials of their COVID Vaccine hopeful. This has come after tireless work carried out since February’20 showing promising preclinical results that the developed vaccine formula is plausibly safe and capable of inducing antibodies that can fight Corona infection in Humans. 

The results of the UQ Vaccine program’s 1st Phase of clinical tests may be out as early as September and if all goes fine, it will move on to the second phase with over a thousand test subjects. Success in these trials can enable mass production and availability of the vaccine by the middle of 2021.

Queensland University COVID Trials

Human trials of UQ led COVID-19 vaccine program begun last week at the Nucleus Network facility in presence of the Queensland University Premiere Ms Palaszcazuk. The premiere was quoted saying “This is a very big step not only for UQ but for the entire Queensland”. 

As on 28th July, COVID has slain 6.5 lakh human lives worldwide while the number of infected cases is rising per second. By the time you will finish reading this blog, hundreds of new corona infections will have emerged. It is at times like this when medical and health researchers are hailed as superheroes and the world looks up to them for relief and to bring about the normalcy in our lives which everybody is craving for; more than anything else in the world.

University of Queensland - Research Team

The COVID Vaccine Project researchers at UQ Trent Munro (left), Paul Young (center), and Keith Chappell (right) claim to have fast-tracked the program to deliver 1st phase trial results by early September. The Queensland Government who is a major stake-holder with close to AUD 10 million invested in UQ research claims it to be “world-leading research” in the race to develop the Corona Virus Vaccine.

Researchers at Queensland University have answered the call with breakthrough research in developing a possible vaccine for the feared COVID-19 disease. After the statutory nod was given to them to begin the first phase of clinical trials, over a hundred Queensland natives volunteered to get the vaccine twice every month as part of the trials and be a part of the research that in all probability could be a game-changer in the current situation and place Australia progressively ahead in the global race of developing the vaccine.

Queensland COVID Vaccine Trials; How it all started?

(CEPI) The Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations contacted the researchers at Queensland University back in the January’20 with an unusual request: To develop a vaccine for COVID 19 disease with a starting funding of  AUD 4.5 million. Thus began extensive research, endless nights of work and since February, the University of Queensland Vaccine Project co-led by Professor Paul Young has delivered positive and profound results in the preclinical trials to ensure that the vaccine is capable of inducing optimum antibodies and is safe for human use.

University of Queensland - Research Volunteer

Helen Sullivan was the first volunteer to be given a clinical dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by UQ. Helen said that she volunteered for the trial to bring back the normalcy to general life and society. Over 4000 Queensland residents raised their hands to be part of the 1st phase of human trials but only 120 will be included.

Come March and the Queensland Government infused another AUD 10 million into the research effort accompanied by Australian Federal Government investing another 3 million and an additional 3.5 million Australian Dollar was contributed by Paul Ramsay Foundation to enable the Queensland researchers to speedup their endeavor.

The Vaccine Project at Queensland University is amongst the 3 major COVID Vaccine Development Programs in the world for which over 4000 Queensland natives volunteered but only 120 were selected for the first phase of trials.

The clinical sample of this vaccine has been developed by UQ in collaboration with CSIRO and under the technical supervision of an Australian Bio-Tech major CSL. Brisbane based Thermo Fisher along with Sweden’s Cytvia are also part of this alliance as leading manufacturers of scientific equipment used for treating diseases.

The Project Director Professor Trent Munro is confident that with CSL to their aid, Australia will be quickly able to mass-produce the vaccine if the phase one and two of the clinical trials are successful.

The other Australian COVID-19 Vaccine; Courtesy Flinders University Researchers

Flinders University researchers too begun the human trials of their possible COVID Vaccine called Covax19. The vaccine is being developed in partnership with ‘Vaxine Pty Ltd’ and the 1st phase of clinical trials started in early July at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“The trials at Adelaide riding on the research work done by Flinder’s University are being touted as the first human trials of a Corona combatting vaccine in the southern hemisphere of the globe.”

Resident Professor on Flinder’s campus, Mr David Gordon is a lead researcher of this project and while he is excited about the results of Covax-19 during the animal trials and is confident about the protein spike methodology that they are deploying; he is cautious when asked about whether a robust and permanent vaccine solution is viable to end the Corona pandemic. Professor Gordon says that it will take more funding and profound research to ensure that the approved vaccine is effective for the public in general irrespective of their age and gender and that it induces the required amount of immunity to Coronavirus; in a degree which is significantly higher than that of our body’s natural immunity. 

What other Australian COVID-19 related researches are at the forefront?

Rapid Testing Kit developed by Monash University researchers.

Monash University has revealed a breakthrough innovation in the testing mechanism of Sars-CoV-2 infection. Along with the infection being present in the body, the rapid test kit developed by researchers at Monash University can also identify the people who have immunity towards the virus and the result too are delivered quickly in about 20 minutes. The test kit is being further developed for mass-scale production and can be an important tool to test a large number of people and thus enable in the effective segregation of the infected.

BCG Vaccine Trials by Murdoch’s Children Research Institute (MCRI)

Under the supervision of Professor Nigel Curtis of MCRI, extensive research is being carried out to determine whether the 100 years old BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) vaccine can be used to establish a defense against the COVID-19 disease. BCG is primarily used against Tuberculosis and uses an unconventional anti-viral strategy. It is known to strengthen the natural immunity by enabling to clone the infection and then produce antigens to fight it. The second phase of trials is underway to find out whether the vaccine creates a similar response in human bodies against the Coronavirus as it does against tuberculosis. Although this cannot be a permanent solution to end the current pandemic, it can prevent a significant loss of health and life amongst the frontline and essential workers by giving them a certain degree of immunity.

Australian Government claims to have a solid footing in terms of vaccine procurement whenever a safe to use dose is created. As per PM Scott Morisson, the Federal Government has invested close to 500 million dollars to fund the research on the prevalent disease and irrespective of whether the first vaccine for COVID-19 is created inside or outside of Australia, her citizens will have easy and timely access to it. The Government is also keeping a tight vigil to check any corporate profiteering in this regard.

Australia has reported a little less than 10000 positive cases of COVID-19 as on 28th July and the entire country has witnessed a sudden disruption of social, political and commercial activities since the pandemic gained relevance in March 2020. The resurgence of positive cases towards the end of July has forced the local government bodies in Sydney and Melbourne to reinstate strict social distancing norms which were earlier relaxed at the beginning of the month.

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About the Author

Frank Barnes

Frank Barnes is a native of Canada and completed his education from the UK. He realised the importance of a good statement of purpose and its role in the admission process. Since then he has been aiding students online to write admission essays, statement of purposes, personal statements, etc. He was an offshore expert offering expert consultation to the students before moving to Sydney as the SOP Writing Head for My Assignment Services. Ensuring a success rate of 85%, Frank also writes blogs and articles to make the students aware of the SOP writing process.

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