The first clinical trials of a possible coronavirus vaccine on the southern hemisphere have started in Australia. In Melbourne and Brisbane, 131 people aged between 18 and 59 engage in the program.
The future vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, is being developed by Novavax, a US biotech company. It started research on the drug in January, when the outbreak of COVID-19 in China. It aims at enhancing the body’s immune response and promoting high levels of antibody neutralization.
If the vaccine works, researchers expect it will be possible to take 100 million doses by the end of this year, and 1.5 billion next year.
Researchers have said that the “vaccines are miracles and have a great way of protecting populations against these severe diseases.”
Dr Paul Griffin is an authority on infectious diseases who participates in the Australian COVID 19 study. He expects the medication will combat the virus with effectiveness and be ready for use within months.
“We look for antibodies and the type and number of antibodies, and then we take some things out of the subjects through those blood tests and do a lot of laboratory experiments to show that it neutralizes the virus. The company manufacturing the vaccine have already started that scaling-up process, so they are already making a lot of doses of this vaccine. So if we can prove it is safe and effective then, potentially, by the end of the year there will be significant number of doses available,” Griffin said.
Australian authorities believe the trial represents a big step forward for a coronavirus vaccine in the global race. Some participants are given placebo while others are given the Novavax drug.
Early results are expected in July, and by the end of this year scientists expect “some conclusive results.” Phase two trials will take place in many nations, with thousands of volunteers. There is also a need for volunteers and the research team has emphasized that no live coronavirus is used in human experiments.
Novavax received $388 million from the Norway-based Alliance for Advances in Disease Preparedness. There are more than 100 possible coronavirus vaccines in development, and a dozen or so have reached the stage of clinical testing.
A global race is ongoing worth potentially billions of dollars for anyone who can find a safe and effective cure for a virus that has killed nearly 350,000 people worldwide.