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Australia’s great COVID-19 vaccine hope

1 month ago 18

Australians could have access to a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus within six months, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.

The Government is in negotiations with a number of companies to procure the University of Oxford’s vaccine candidate, which is still being tested but has shown promising results.

Mr Hunt called it a “ray of hope” that Australia could be able to vaccinate against the virus by early next year.

“I am now, on the basis of our best medical advice, more optimistic,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“I think the world is moving closer to a vaccine ... If anything occurs before then that would be an outstanding result, not just for Australia, but the world.

“For the first time, I feel cautiously but genuinely optimistic about the prospect of a vaccine.”

It is understood that one of the companies Australia is negotiating with is British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

It comes after researchers from Oxford University revealed positive results from trials on their vaccine last month.

Research published in the journal Lancet claims an experimental vaccine — labelled ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 — was tested on more than 1000 people and prompted a protective immune response in those aged 18 to 55.

“The vaccine was safe and tolerated,” researchers wrote.

“Preliminary results from a phase 1/2 trial involving 1077 healthy adults found that vaccine induced strong antibody & T cell immune responses up to day 56 of the ongoing trial,” the Lancet wrote when announcing the breakthrough on social media on Monday night.

“These responses may be even greater after a 2nd dose, according to a subgroup study of 10 participants.”

Oxford University’s Jenner Institute director Dr Adrian Hill, said the results were hugely promising.

“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” Dr Hill told the Associated Press.

“What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system.”

He claimed the vaccine causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus and that a partnership was already underway with a drug manufacturer to produce millions of doses.

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