Having been one of the first nations to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Australia has begun testing for a vaccine. This phases is expected to last for 3 months.
Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) stated that they had begun testing for a combination of treatments with Norway and Spain. The Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu hinted that a vaccine could take long to be found and estimated about 18 months.
Efforts are well underway across the world to combat coronavirus which has claimed more over 60,000 lives with over 900,000 infections globally. The race is to try and come up with a remedy.
Australia Fast-tracking Testing of Vaccine for COVID-19
Australia through Australia’s national science agency, has commenced the first stage of testing potential vaccines for COVID-19. The process of testing underway at CSIRO’s high-containment biosecurity facility, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong.
Last year, CSIRO partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global group that aims 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.
CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall said: “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 researchers are working around-the-clock to combat this disease which is affecting so many – whether it’s at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) or at our state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility – we will keep working until this viral enemy is defeated,” Dr Marshall said.
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.
Professor Trevor Drew OBE, is Director of AAHL and leading CSIRO’s COVID-19 virus and vaccine work.
“We have been studying SARS CoV-2 since January and getting ready to test the first vaccine candidates as soon as they are available,” Professor Drew said.
“We are carefully balancing operating at speed with the critical need for safety in response to this global public health emergency.”
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.
Dr Marshall said: “Tackling disease and supporting better health outcomes takes a one-health approach.”
“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.”
Medical personnel are also making headway in ensuring that lives are saved and thus are seeing cases of recoveries increasing each day across the globe.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!