COVID-19 Vaccine Being Developed in Australia Raises Antibodies to Neutralize Virus in Pre-clinical Tests

A potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by a team of scientists in Australia has been shown to neutralize the virus in the pre-clinical tests that take place before human trials.

The team is one of many around the world working to create a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, which has spread to every continent except Antarctica since late last year. More than 217,000 people have so far died, and almost 935,000 have survived, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. is the country with the most known cases, as shown in the Statista graph below.

Statista
This infographic shows the countries with the most COVID-19 cases. Statista

The vaccine being developed was found to raise levels of antibodies to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. These are early results and do not mean the vaccine will have the same effect in humans.

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However, Paul Young, head of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland who is co-leading the project, said the results were what they had been hoping for at this stage.

"We were particularly pleased that the strength of the antibody response was even better than those observed in samples from COVID-19 recovered patients," he said in a statement.

Kanta Subbarao, of the University of Melbourne's Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, tested samples from the University of Queensland. Her team found the vaccine produced high levels of antibodies which could neutralize the coronavirus in cell culture.

Subbarao said: "This is a very important finding because similar immune responses with SARS vaccines in animal models were shown to lead to protection from infection."

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Scientists at the University of Queensland, Australia, work on the new coronavirus vaccine candidate. University of Queensland Australia

Keith Chappell, a molecular biologist at the University of Queensland, specializes in vaccine design and is co-leading the project at the institution. He said the team wanted to have a "robust package" of data on safety and from preclinical tests before starting trials in humans. The team is hoping to have more results at the start of June.

Chappell said his team's progress would not have been possible without help from collaborators at Viroclinics Xplore in the Netherlands, who have been testing the vaccine's capabilities in animals.

Progress by other teams creating vaccines has also been reported this week. Human trials are set to begin on a vaccine developed by a team at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

Over 1,000 people are expected to part in the trial. Half will be given the experimental vaccine, while the other half will receive a vaccine for meningitis. To see if it works, the team will compare the number of COVID-19 infections in the control group with those who were given the vaccine.

Another vaccine developed by a biopharmaceutical company in China will soon be testing in clinical trials in Australia, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
COVID-19 Vaccine Being Developed in Australia Raises Antibodies to Neutralize Virus in Pre-clinical Tests | Health