Unexpected results for Aussie COVID vaccine trial
Scientists at the University of Queensland have released their coronavirus vaccine pre-clinical trial data and are thrilled with the results, saying that they show a "good level of protection".

During the trial, scientists gave doses of their vaccine to hamsters and then exposed them to coronavirus to test whether or not the drug provoked the correct immune responses.

Keith Chappell from the UQ School of Chemistry said this was just "one step in the process".

"Following a single dose, we see a really good level of protection against virus in the lung," he said to ABC.

"Around half of the animals had no virus at all detected in the lungs and the other half had reduced levels.

"We saw a marked reduction in the severity of the disease in the hamsters."

Dr Chappell said that the vaccine was likely to provide protection against the virus and symptoms of the disease.

"The protection we saw after a single dose was better than we expected," he said.

"[It] looks like two doses do a great job of protecting both against virus replication and the disease."

He said that the trial was going well and there's "no safety concerns with the participants dosed so far".

The trial recruited 120 people and the researchers said that this was the first clinical trial to release detailed results of hamster modelling.

"Until now, it has been extremely difficult to compare, but we are the first ones to make public how the vaccine is performing," Dr Chappell said.

Scientists are confident that the Australian-developed candidate will be able to be mass-produced.

"With the optimisation that we've done and the proof of concept … this vaccine will be able to be produced at scale," Professor Munro said.

They said as many as 10 million doses of the vaccine would be able to be produced at one time.

"The headline findings are that we can manufacture this vaccine in sufficient quantities to reach a large percentage of the population," Dr Chappell said.

However, Magdalena Plebanski, professor of Immunology at RMIT has urged for calm.

"But it's early days and we still don't know whether it will induce an immune response in humans," she said.

She is impressed by the UQ study and the urgent nature of the team who are looking to accelerate the process of getting a viable vaccine to the community. 

"They are thinking about the next step, about scale-up and production and they have shown scale-up is possible," Professor Plebanski said.

"It looks promising. Thus far, all the signs are good," she said.

"As to which is going to offer the best protection, it's still too early to know."

This article originally appeared on Over60.