The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia has started the first phase of testing two potential Covid-19 vaccines.
Estimated to be completed in three months, the test takes place at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory of CSIRO (AAHL) in Geelong.
CSIRO joined the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in January to fight the Covid-19 epidemic.
In consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO), CEPI selected vaccine candidates from the University of the United Kingdom of Oxford and Innovio Pharmaceuticals in the United States for the first preclinical trials at CSIRO.
The plan is to test more candidate coronavirus vaccines in the future.
In addition to vaccine testing, CSIRO is working to expand candidate vaccines at its biologics production plant in Melbourne.
CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall said: “The start of testing of candidate CSIRO vaccines is a crucial step in the fight against Covid-19, made possible by collaboration both in Australia and around the world. “
“CSIRO researchers are working 24 hours a day to fight this disease that affects so many people – whether at the Australian Australian Health Laboratory (AAHL) or our state-of-the-art biological manufacturing plant – we will continue to work until to this viral enemy is defeated. “
The tests are designed to assess the effectiveness of vaccine candidates, as well as the best approach to administer the vaccine for better protection, including an intramuscular and nasal route.
AAHL Director Trevor Drew said, “We have been studying SARS CoV-2 since January and are preparing to test the first candidate vaccines as soon as they are available.
“We carefully balance high speed operation with the critical need for security in response to this global public health emergency.”
CSIRO has already produced a stock of SARS-CoV-2 for preclinical studies and research based on the viral strain isolated by the Doherty Institute.
In addition, CSIRO has created a biological model which has shown that ferrets react to the new coronavirus. Researchers are currently analyzing the course of the infection in animals to determine if a vaccine will work.
CSIRO researchers also discovered that SARS-CoV-2 evolves into different “clusters” and assesses any possible effect on vaccine development.
Last month, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia announced a clinical trial to test the use of the BCG vaccine against Covid-19.