An Australian clinical research company says it is a step closer to finding a working coronavirus vaccine, with scientists about to embark on a two-month-long hunt for healthy adult volunteers to trial the treatment.
Described as “ground-breaking”, the potential vaccine called COVID-19 S-Trimer has been given the green light to be trialed on humans, and Australians will be first in line to have the chemical mixture injected.
The vaccine has been developed by China-based biotechnology company Clover Biopharmaceuticals to help the body produce antibodies to fight the coronavirus, a statement on Tuesday said.
It will be trialed by Perth-based Linear Clinical Research, with its chief executive Jayden Rogers saying the vaccine candidate showed great potential and securing the trial was a major coup for Australia.
“This is one of the most prominent trials globally and involves some of the most renowned vaccines companies,” Mr Rogers said in the statement.
He said Clover was one of the first companies to start developing a vaccine when it began work in January, adding that COVID-19 S-Trimer was one of the first potential vaccines around the world to make it to human trials.
Linear will be seeking healthy adults, including the elderly, to volunteer for the first phase of the trial within the next two months.
If successful, the next phase of the trial would involve thousands of people around the world, before it’s hoped a vaccine could be made widely available.
“We are fortunate to be one of the few countries in the world to still be offering functional clinical trial facilities because we do not have large volumes of COVID-19 cases as compared to other parts of the world,” Mr Rogers said.
Australia continues to have a low rate of new coronavirus cases, with 6720 people diagnosed to date and 83 deaths.
More than 2.97 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and more than 205,000 have died.
Countries race to find COVID-19 vaccine
Last week, researchers at the University of Oxford began trialing a potential coronavirus vaccine on humans, with hopes of having at least a million doses of its vaccine ready in September.
It has recruited 1112 volunteers, half of whom will receive the potential vaccine against COVID-19, the other half a control vaccine to test its safety and efficacy.
The research team, led by Professor Sarah Gilbert, is hoping for an 80 percent success rate but has conceded their goal of having the vaccine ready by September was “highly ambitious” and could change.
Meanwhile, Imperial College London had earlier announced plans to start recruiting healthy adults to proceed with clinical trials in June and have results available in September.
The CSIRO announced at the start of the month that it had begun testing two potential vaccines on animals.
At the time, researchers said even if they proved successful, it would be near impossible to have manufacturers mass-produce a vaccine until next year.
Worldwide, there are reportedly more than 100 research projects to find a coronavirus vaccine, seven of which are being clinically trialed, according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Trials are currently underway in China and the United States, with Germany to follow suit by the end of April.