Coronavirus update: Two Australian-made COVID-19 ‘super vaccines’ enter trial phase

Two new Australian-made COVID-19 vaccines will soon enter trials with the hopes they will provide more targeted protection against the virus.
These so-called “super vaccines” will be produced by the Doherty Institute, and the other by Monash University.

Both have been made and developed in Melbourne.

Healthy people aged 18-70 living in Victoria are being called upon to roll up their sleeves as two new Australian-made vaccines enter Phase 1 trials. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The world-first vaccines target the tip of the coronavirus’ spike protein; the receptor binding domain (RBD).

This is the region responsible for attaching to and infecting human cells.

“The RBD enables the virus to enter and infect cells in the body and elicits over 90 per cent of neutralising antibodies (antibodies that can block the virus) following SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the Doherty Institute explained in a statement.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy said the vaccines are “more refined” than their earlier counterparts.

“They’re using two different technologies, protein which has been refined and mRNA,” he said.

“They can use them separately or together. They can use them against other diseases. It’s great innovation.

“It’s not only important for the current pandemic but future pandemics as well”.

Trial Phase 1 will begin in the coming weeks and will see 114 Melbournians vaccinated at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The coronavirus as seen under a microscope.
The world-first ‘super vaccines’ target the receptor binding domain at the tip of the coronavirus’ spike protein. (British Health Protection Agency)

University of Melbourne Professor Terry Nolan, Head of the Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group at the Doherty Institute will lead Phase 1 trials.

“This trial will assess the safety and efficacy of a single dose of these vaccines as a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, therefore participants must have had their third dose at least three months prior to the study commencing,” Professor Nolan said.

“People who have been infected with COVID-19 are also eligible provided they had their infection at least three months prior, and have had their third vaccine dose.

“What’s also unique about this gold standard, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is that it will be the first time a side-by-side comparison will be undertaken of two new COVID-19 vaccine platforms.”

Coles Eastgardens

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

Healthy people aged 18-70 living in Victoria are being called upon to roll up their sleeves.

A vaccine has to pass six phases before approval, which the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) outlines on its website.

If the vaccines are approved by the TGA they would be the first Australian developed vaccines.

The vaccines currently approved for use — AstraZeneca , Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax — were developed overseas.

University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said with millions more doses of COVID-19 vaccines still to be administered globally, the need for additional vaccines remains, and with new variants arising, next generation vaccines with innovative technology are required.

“Both vaccines are efficient to produce and can be rapidly modified to incorporate distinct or multiple RBD mutations arising in future variants,” Professor Lewin said.

“In addition, Australia needs the ability to manufacture its own vaccines to ensure our own supply should future global shortages occur, and to contribute to the global need for COVID-19 vaccines.”

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