Funding boost could accelerate coronavirus vaccine by six months

By on 24 March, 2020

Professor Trent Munro of the University of Queensland. Image supplied.

The University of Queensland could receive up to $17 million in funding to expedite its research into a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

The funding is for the research into a vaccine candidate for Covid-19 being developed by UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

UQ has been tasked by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus 2019, and is the only Australian organisation to hold this responsibility.

The Queensland government has pledged $10 million to expand the research, and the Commonwealth a further $3 million.

The Paul Ramsay Foundation has also announced a grant of up to $3.5 million for the project, conditional upon UQ securing another $6.5 million to reach a total of $20 million from government and other sources.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection from COVID-19 was an urgent public health priority.

“We will provide funding through our Advance Queensland strategy to fast-track a vaccine for this virus,” the Premier said.

The UQ researchers used their novel ‘molecular clamp’ technology to create their first vaccine candidate in three weeks.

Dr. Keith Chappell from UQ said that the new funding meant that the team could manufacture the vaccine and run the early-phase clinical trials simultaneously, meaning doses would be ready to go the moment the vaccine was approved for use, without compromising safety trials.

“The containment procedures being put in place within Australia and internationally will slow the spread of the virus and we want to use that time as effectively as possible,” Dr Chappell said.

“Accelerating our work to find a safe and effective vaccine brings us a step closer to translating a fundamental research discovery through to the full scale manufacture for the global populace.”

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