Australia’s CSIRO is at the forefront of vaccine testing for COVID-19 and have commenced their first stage of testing.
Last year the CSIRO had partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global group that aims to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines. The aim is to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines.
In January, CEPI engaged CSIRO to start working on the virus SARS CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19. In consultation with the World Health Organisation, CEPI has identified vaccine candidates from The University of Oxford (UK) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (US) to undergo the first pre-clinical trials at CSIRO, with further candidates likely to follow.
‘Beginning vaccine candidate testing at CSIRO is a critical milestone in the fight against COVID-19, made possible by collaboration both within Australia and across the globe,’ CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall said.
CSIRO was the first research organisation outside of China to generate sufficient stock of the virus —using the virus strain isolated by the Doherty Institute — to enable pre-clinical studies and research on COVID-19.
The testing is underway at CSIRO’s high-containment biosecurity facility, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong. The latest milestone builds on CSIRO’s growing work to tackle COVID-19, which has included scaling up other potential vaccine candidates at its biologics production facility in Melbourne.
CSIRO researchers confirmed, after studying SARS CoV-2’s genomic sequence that the virus is presently changing into a number of distinct ‘clusters’ and are now starting to look at how this may also impact on the development of a vaccine.
CSIRO is testing the COVID-19 vaccine candidates for efficacy, but also evaluating the best way to give the vaccine for better protection, including an intra-muscular injection and innovative approaches like a nasal spray.
‘We are carefully balancing operating at speed with the critical need for safety in response to this global public health emergency,’ said Professor Trevor Drew OBE, director of AAHL and leading CSIRO’s COVID-19 virus and vaccine work.
CSIRO has a long history of developing and testing vaccines since the opening of the AAHL in 1985. It is the only high biocontainment facility in the southern hemisphere working with highly dangerous and exotic pathogens, including diseases that transfer from animals to people.
‘In 2016 CSIRO created the Health and Biosecurity research group who work with our scientists at AAHL to tackle our national and international health and biosecurity challenges together, so we can better protect the health of our people, environment, agriculture and industries and our way of life,’ Dr Marshall said.
‘This, combined with our data science and manufacturing capability in our biological production facility, means we were well prepared to help Australia in One Health with disease identification, prevention and management, to deliver the real world solutions that our nation expects from science.’
For more information on CSIRO’s COVID-19 work, visit: CSIRO COVID-19.
Recent stories, information and updates regarding COVID-19
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has just announced that greater Sydney area will go into lockdown until next Monday.
A story The Echo posted this morning about the breach at Brisbane International Airport has been updated as the Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, has declared the international terminal a venue of concern.
Anzac Day was a bit different this year because of COVID, but commemorations went ahead across the country.
The matter of over $15,000 owing to Ballina Shire Council by the Ballina Seagulls Rugby League for unpaid rates was discussed at council's last meeting.
Enhanced safety measures for point to point transport such as taxis, hire and rideshare vehicles are being rolled out in Byron Bay, Ballina and Lismore with the opening of three free temporary vehicle sanitisation stations.
The capital of East Timor, Dili, is reeling after flood waters swept through the city on the weekend, leaving at least 27 dead. The President of East Timor, Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo, described the floods as a 'great calamity'.
NSW Health has confirmed that COVID-related restrictions for the Northern Rivers will be lifted at midnight tonight (Monday 5 April).
On Easter Sunday afternoon the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) has thanked the community for coming forward in large numbers for COVID-19 testing, with more than 10,000 tests conducted in the region in the past week.