CSIRO begins testing COVID-19 vaccines

CSIRO is testing the COVID-19 vaccine candidates for efficacy. Image: CSIRO

Testing for vaccines against COVID-19 are underway at the CSIRO’s high containment biosecurity facility in Geelong.

The first trials, in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), are taking place at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AHHL).

Initial tests of candidate vaccines, identified in consultation with the World Health Organisation, are expected to take three months.

CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall said vaccine candidate testing was a “critical milestone” against COVID-19, made possible by collaboration within Australia and across the globe.

“CSIRO researchers are working around-the-clock to combat this disease which is affecting so many – whether it’s at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at our state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility,” he said.

“We will keep working until this viral enemy is defeated.”

In January, CEPI commissioned CSIRO to start work on the virus SARS CoV-2, which caused the virus.

Candidate vaccines for the first pre-clinical trials were identified from the University of Oxford and US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals. Further candidates are likely to follow.

AHHL director professor Trevor Drew OBE is leading CSIRO’s COVID-19 virus and vaccine work.

“We have been studying SARS CoV-2 since January and getting ready to test the first vaccine candidates as soon as they are available,” he said.

“We are carefully balancing operating at speed with the critical need for safety in response to this global public health emergency.”

CSIRO was the first organisation outside of China with enough stock of the virus that enabled pre-clinical trials and research on COVID-19.