The Federal Government says it could take up to 12 months to roll out a coronavirus vaccine in Australia, depending on which candidate is ultimately successful. It all depends on whether the successful vaccine is “protein-based” or not.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews says medical company CSL ( http://www.csl.com )and CSIRO are equipped to quickly manufacture a “protein-based” vaccine — like the type being developed by the University of Queensland.
CSL is also the process of realigning its production technology to manufacture the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine out of its Melbourne plant.
That vaccines is technically a non protein-based vaccine known as “viral vector”. But CSL says it can produce it here and has been “ramping up” work behind the scenes to make it happen.
The Australian Government has committed to buy 26 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is considered a frontrunner in the race.
But there are other vaccines being trialled by pharmaceutical companies including Moderna, which are known as mRNA vaccines.
“Protein-based vaccines have been used for decades, they’re trusted as safe, and they’ve been effective for the protection of babies and children against many infections, including bacterial infections,”
The Government-backed Queensland University vaccines is based on this approach.
What’s a non-protein-based vaccine?
One of the most promising types of non-protein vaccines are mRNA vaccines, short for messenger ribonucleic acid vaccines, which is the Moderna vaccine.
These vaccines effectively carry the molecular instructions to make the protein — so a person’s body can produce it. While mRNA vaccine technology is exciting, Professor Booy warns it’s never been successfully manufactured and distributed before.
“MRNA vaccines may turn out for COVID to be effective, but there’s going to be a long road for safety and effectiveness testing before we can be confident of the usefulness of mRNA vaccines.” He said other types of vaccines were more likely to be ready and safely delivered as the first option.