Australian Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough ‘will save lives’ as scientists create country’s first mRNA jab just in time to fight Omicron
- Australian scientists have created the country’s first mRNA vaccine
- The new vaccine can quickly be adjusted to fight new variants as they appear
- The vaccine is now subject to clinical trials and regulatory approvals
Victorian scientists have created Australia’s first mRNA vaccine, which could be adjusted to fight off aggressive new COVID-19 variants.
The new vaccine was created in Melbourne within five months by Monash University researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturer IDT Australia and the Doherty Institute.
It is now subject to clinical trials and regulatory approvals.
Australia’s first mRNA vaccine was created by Monash University (pictured) researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturer IDT Australia and the Doherty Institute
About 450 doses have been produced at the Boronia site, enabling 150 people to take part in phase one trials from January, with results expected later in 2022.
Innovation Minister Jaala Pulford said it was a “significant milestone” and the first time Australia had developed an mRNA vaccine of any kind.
“Australia has manufactured for trial our first COVID-19 mNRA vaccine, this is also Australia’s first mRNA product that has been manufactured,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
The vaccine exposes patients to a fraction of the virus compared to other Covid vaccinations and can be quickly restructured to fight variants as they appear in the future (stock image)
“We are the only place in this country that has the capacity in pharmaceutical manufacturing, but also in scientific development, to do this.”
Ms Pulford said the technology may lead to a “whole new frontier of individualised medicine” and could help scientists to develop medicine for others diseases including cancer.
Monash University Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology Colin Pouton said the new vaccine was different to all existing COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Existing vaccines really are vaccines that expose our immune system to the whole spike protein and the coronavirus,” he said.
Monash University Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology Colin Pouton (pictured) said the vaccine could be used to protect against new COVID-19 variants, including Omicron
“We’re vaccinating with the receptor-binding domain, it’s about a quarter of the spike protein.”
He said the vaccine could be used to protect against new COVID-19 variants, including Omicron, although it’s still not known if that variant is already protected by existing vaccines.
“We just don’t know yet, because it’s only infected a relatively small number of people,” Prof Pouton said.
“We’re preparing a platform where we can respond in the future quickly.
“The beauty of the mRNA system, and also recombinant protein, is that you can retune this vaccine very quickly, within weeks, for a new variant that appears.”
He said the vaccine was created to fight against the Beta COVID-19 variant, which has since died out but also started out in southern Africa.
“That’s the only strain so far that looked like vaccines were going to not do so well against,” he said.
“Choosing the Beta was actually a very good model for a variant that might actually challenge the capacity of vaccines to continue to protect.”
Victoria recorded another 918 new COVID-19 infections and six deaths on Tuesday, with the state now managing 11,417 active cases.
There are 305 COVID patients in the state’s hospitals, 41 of them are actively infected with the virus in intensive care and 19 requiring ventilation. The seven-day hospitalisation average is 298.
Virus testers processed 45,658 results on Monday, while 3726 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 in state-run hubs.
There’s now 91 per cent of Victorians aged over 12 fully vaccinated.