Pharmaceutical companies worldwide are racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that will hopefully end this pandemic and help life return to normal. With Pfizer announcing recently that its vaccine is proving to be 90% effective against COVID-19, another vaccine candidate is also showing promising results.
Australian vaccine "UQ-CSL V451" that is being developed by a research team at the University of Queensland and biotechnology company CSL Ltd is showing to be safe with the successful production of antibodies against COVID-19 through its phase one clinical trial and is also effective in old people who are more compromised to the virus.
"The initial data is very clear, that the [UQ] vaccine is proving to be safe through phase-one clinical trials and it's proving to produce a positive antibody response," Federal Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt says.
"That means it's doing its job. That's particularly so in the elderly, and that is an especially important outcome, given the vulnerability to the elderly around the world from COVID-19.
The first phase of the UQ vaccine clinical trial begun last July and involved about 120 volunteers aging from 18-55 years old, with some of the volunteers receiving placebo. It uses a technology called the molecular clamp.
Viruses have a type of proteins called spike proteins on their envelope that helps with the attachment to the host cells membrane; these proteins induce an immune response; therefore, they are an essential target for vaccines. They tend to change their initial native viral form when expressed independently as a part of a vaccine, which leads to an ineffective immune response. The molecular clamp technology helps to overcome this problem by maintaining those proteins' shape to induce a more efficient immune response.
CSL Ltd company is manufacturing the vaccine and working towards getting approval to start phase-three clinical trials by the end of the year, hoping to make the vaccine available by the third quarter of 2021. CSL also is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Victoria, Australia.
By having more than one vaccine candidate around the world that is showing promising results in fighting COVID-19 infection, it gives us some hope that we might be getting closer to the end of this pandemic.