SYDNEY (Reuters) – Early testing of a possible COVID-19 vaccine developed by an Australian university and CSL Ltd has shown it to be safe and produce an antibody response, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Friday.
Pharmaceutical companies are rushing to develop effective treatments for the disease amid a wave of COVID-19 cases that has killed more than a million people and battered the global economy.
Several candidates, including the manufactured Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca, are expected to announce the results of the final testing phase shortly.
Pfizer said earlier this week that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective based on the initial study results.
While lagging a bit behind other candidates, the vaccine candidate developed by the University of Queensland and CSL will now enter final testing, Hunt said.
“The vaccine appears to be safe through phase I clinical trials and that it produces a positive antibody response,” Hunt told reporters in Queensland.
“It does its job. This is particularly the case with the elderly, and it is a particularly important outcome given the global vulnerability to elderly people around the world from COVID-19. “
Should it pass those trials, Hunt said it could be ready for distribution by the third quarter of 2021.
Australia has already agreed to buy 51 million of the candidate developed by the University of Queensland. Australia will also buy the AstraZeneca vaccine if it passes the final testing phase.
Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry