Aussie Vaccine Breakthrough
Aussie Vaccine Breakthrough

Aussie COVID-19 vaccine’s secret weapon

Research into other Australian COVID-19 vaccines is pushing ahead despite the abandonment of the UQ vaccine.

At least three other Australian teams are working on vaccines.

Griffith University's Professor Bernd Rehm currently has three COVID-19 vaccine candidates being trialled on hamsters in the US with results expected by late January 2021.

"I think it's very important to look at the composition of the materials, how they are made, how they can be made at large scale, how cost effectively they can be produced and how stable they are," he told News Corp.

Griffith University’s Professor Bernd Rehm currently has three COVID-19 vaccine candidates being trialled on hamsters in the US. Picture: AAP
Griffith University’s Professor Bernd Rehm currently has three COVID-19 vaccine candidates being trialled on hamsters in the US. Picture: AAP

Early trials of the Griffith vaccines in mice were encouraging and if they work they will have an advantage over the successful Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because they do not need to be kept at super cold temperatures.

The team needs around $6 million to progress development of the vaccines.

Up to $3 million is needed to fund a manufacturing plant to produce the vaccine and another $3 million to conduct human clinical trials if animal studies show they are safe.

The Griffith University vaccines are sub-unit vaccines and are formulated using antigens of the virus, into a structure that mimics the virus size.

In the past the problem with these type of vaccines was they struggled to get a good immune response, Professor Rehm hopes by formulating his vaccine into a particle structure the immune system will respond better.

"It looks to the immune system like the virus but it's of course completely different," Professor Rehm said.

The immune system efficiently recognises particles and his research team has developed their vaccine into a particle that was the similar size as the actual pathogen that causes COVID-19.

The Griffith vaccine does not use any live part of the virus that causes COVID-19 and uses synthetic DNA encoding viral parts during its manufacturing process.

"There's absolutely no possibility of having the virus reconstituted, it's really very, very safe," he said.

"We use components, which the regulator knows about already, and the regulator already approved in a different context so we always have that in mind," he said.



Australians could get access to the COVID-19 vaccine faster despite the fact the University of Queensland vaccine has been abandoned.

This is because Australian vaccine manufacturer CSL will be able to quickly press ahead with the production of extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which it began producing last month. The government announced this morning that it had ordered a further 20 million doses of this vaccine be manufactured to make up for the loss of the UQ vaccine.

CSL was also going to manufacture the UQ vaccine and would have had to stop production of AstraZeneca's vaccine and reconfigure it's plant to produce the UQ vaccine, a process that would have slowed down vaccine roll out.

Additionally, Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained this morning that the University of Queensland vaccine was more difficult to manufacture than The AstraZeneca vaccine.

Public confidence is key to the successful rollout of any vaccine program.

This is the main reason the government abandoned the UQ vaccine.

The clinical trials were showing the vaccine was affective against the virus that causes COVID-19 however, the risk that people who received it may return a false positive HIV test would likely have dissuaded many people from excepting the vaccine.

By moving quickly to order extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 11 million extra doses of the Novavax vaccine which is still in clinical trials Government is aiming to restore public confidence in its vaccine policy.

Mr Morrison claims the government has secured enough vaccines to protect the population twice over.





The most successful vaccines to date are the Pfizer vaccine which has proved to be 95 per cent effective.

This vaccine began to be rolled out in the UK This week but it will not be available in Australia until next year.

Australia has secured just 10 million doses of this vaccine, enough to protect only 5 million Australians because two doses are needed.

Australia does not have a contract to secure the other successful vaccine made by US company Moderna and will have to rely on receiving doses via an international agreement.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not proven to be as successful as the other two.

Clinical trials showed it was 62 per cent effective when given has two full doses.

A smaller clinical trial showed vaccine was 90 per cent affective in people who received a smaller first dose of the vaccine followed by a second full shot of the vaccine.

Originally published as Aussie COVID-19 vaccine's secret weapon