UQ enters agreement for large-scale COVID-19 production
THE University of Queensland has entered into an agreement that would see up to 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine produced by the end of next year if human trials prove successful.
Under the agreement with global biotech company CSL and the Norway-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), initial large-scale production would take place in Melbourne and a vaccine could be available for distribution next year.
Australian-based CSL would also subcontract other global manufacturers to increase the number of doses that can be produced and broaden the geographical distribution of vaccine production.
Under the deal, CSL and CEPI would support the first human safety trial of the vaccine candidate, dubbed S-clamp, expected to begin next month, followed by larger trials, as well as fund the manufacture of the vaccine.
CEPI entered into an initial agreement with UQ in January last year, worth up to $US10.6 million, to develop its rapid response molecular clamp technology for the development of vaccines against "outbreak virus pathogens".
In January this year, that partnership was expanded to use the technology to produce a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The agreement includes an allocation of vaccine doses to CSL to "support its longstanding biosecurity commitment to the Australian community", as well as Australia's regional neighbours.
CEPI chairwoman Jane Halton said the deal was "an important step forward in our battle against this virus".
"We know that the only way to beat this pandemic is through collaboration, across countries and also across sectors," she said. "We cannot afford to wait until we know whether a vaccine works before ensuring we can produce it at scale. This partnership will benefit enormously from CSL's experience and capabilities in vaccine development and large-scale manufacturing, which is why this is such an important development."
The UQ vaccine, developed by a team co-led by Professor Paul Young and Dr Keith Chappell, will be combined with an adjuvant technology to improve immune response, reduce the amount of antigen needed for each vaccine and enable more doses to be manufactured more rapidly.
CSL's chief scientific officer Professor Andrew Cuthbertson said the devastating toll COVID-19 had inflicted on the world was being countered by an extraordinary collaboration by the world's scientists.
"Should trials be successful, this vaccine holds the potential to provide protection against this urgent public health emergency for Australians and those around the world vulnerable to this devastating virus," he said.
More than 6.6 million people worldwide have been infected with the novel coronavirus, including more than 392,000 people who have died.
Queensland has had 1060 known cases of the virus, including six people who have died.
Originally published as COVID-19 vaccine leader: UQ's deal with biotech giant