Australian first: Human coronavirus vaccine trials begin in South Australia

The first potential coronavirus vaccine developed in the southern hemisphere has begun human trials in Adelaide, with volunteers praised for their efforts to help save the world from the killer disease.

Australian company Vaxine will use a clinical trial unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital to test the COVAX-19 vaccine.

Forty volunteers aged between 18 and 65 will be given two doses three weeks apart and will then have blood tests to measure protective antibody and their responses.

Vaxine research director Nikolai Petrovsky said COVAX-19 used a type of technology that mirrored previous work on vaccines for the SARS coronavirus.

He said it was thought to provide the most certain and reliable results.

Known as the recombinant spike protein approach, it seeks to induce a hormonal and cellular immune response.

“As early as January 2020, our modelling identified that COVID-19 as a major pandemic threat that could potentially cause millions of deaths globally,” Professor Petrovsky said.

“Unfortunately, our early predictions were spot on.”

Vaxine research director Nikolai Petrovsky with a vaccine specimen. Photo: AAP

Vaxine business manager Sarah Pringle said the company had been working for 18 years to develop a successful pandemic vaccine platform.

“Pandemic research is not something you can turn on and off like a tap,” she said.

“People should not think that short-term funds, no matter how large, can deliver instant pandemic solutions after a crisis hits; it will always be too little, too late.”

South Australian Health Minister Stephen Wade said the willingness of volunteers to take part in the trial could play a key role in conquering COVID-19.

“As we can see with this trial today, by having local health networks that are friendly to research, we can actually give South Australians access to the very latest cutting edge technology and care,” Mr Wade said.

“We’ve got a strong emphasis on building medical research and programs such as this.

“We’re very keen to make sure our facilities are not only delivering high-quality care for South Australians but also are the base for economic development.”

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