With science labs all over the world busy developing their COVID-19 vaccines, a Queensland-made shot is being manufactured in the CSL’s biologics facility in Victoria and could be widely available by March 2021. The global biotech is also manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told the ABC in mid-November this year while visiting laboratories at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane that early trials of the Australian-made groundbreaking vaccine called V451 were showing promise. He said the vaccine’s development was ahead of schedule and that testing in phase 1 showed it was safe.
The Minister said CSL was aiming for approval to begin phase-three clinical trials, due before the end of December this year, with agreements in play for 51 million doses of V451 once it has successfully completed regulatory processes. If successful, 51 million doses of the vaccine manufactured in Australia by CSL will be available from mid-2021.
“The initial data is very clear that the [UQ] vaccine is proving to be safe through phase-one clinical trials and it’s proving to produce a positive antibody response,” Mr Hunt told reporters.
The vaccine is one of four the Federal Government plans to buy.
Mr Hunt also told ABC Radio Brisbane the same day that selected Australians could access a vaccine being made by Pfizer by March 2021.
Worldwide Candidate Vaccines in the Mix
At the end of November this year there were more than 200 COVID-19 vaccines in developmental stages worldwide, according to Melissa Davey from The Guardian. She reported that over 40 were at the human clinical trial stage and the Australian government has agreed to secure four of those showing the most promise. These would be rolled out if they are proven safe and effective against the virus. All four vaccines would require shots to be given in two doses separated by a few weeks.
Overseas Travel and Arrivals
Overseas travellers in Australia are accustomed to the vaccination requirements for diseases such as yellow fever and polio, but there has been some controversy over Qantas chief Alan Joyce commenting that in future, international air travellers will have to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and some governments would not allow visitors into Australia unless they could prove they had been vaccinated.
However, PM Scott Morrison says he won’t mandate vaccination, and people could choose not to have it. He said his government supports vaccination and will run a strong marketing campaign to encourage it, but he also said proof of vaccination may be required for border re-entry in some circumstances.
What are the Four Vaccines We Will Get in Australia*?
- University of Queensland/CSL vaccine: This is a protein vaccine, and Australia has secured 51m units, which it hopes will be available by mid-2021.
- Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine: This is a viral vector vaccine with genetic material and inactivated or weak virus inserted, but it can’t cause disease. Australia has secured 33.8m units of this vaccine.
- Novavax vaccine: This is another protein vaccine, with harmless bits of Covid-19 inserted. If the vaccine is safe and effective, 40m units will be available in Australia in the first half of 2021.
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: This is an mRNA-based vaccine that teaches human cells to make a harmless protein unique to Covid-19 and builds an immune response. 10m units of the vaccine are estimated to be available from March 2021.
*Once regulatory approval has ensured safety and effectiveness have been determined.
How Will the Government Distribute the Vaccine?
The first doses should be ready for rollout from March 2021, but the distribution process will depend on the vaccines’ test results before they are approved for use. Another consideration is large outbreaks – in this case, the vaccines would be sent there first.
The vaccines are expected to be available in GP clinics, dedicated vaccination centres and clinics such as Travelvax, and medical teams will visit aged care facilities and those for vulnerable populations to administer the vaccine.
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Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for TravelVax.