A Melbourne laboratory will begin producing 30 million doses of a promising coronavirus vaccine today.
Global biotech company CSL is making the vaccine ahead of time so it can be released immediately, if trials prove successful.
The Oxford University-developed AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen as a leading global candidate against the virus.
A volunteer is injected with AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine as part of the trial. (University of Oxford/AP)
It’s hoped the vaccine could be ready by the first half of next year if it passes all regulatory requirements.
The results of stage three clinical trials are expected before the end of December.
From today, the vaccine will begin processing which will take 50 days, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’re making it ahead of time so that should the clinical trial be positive, with the outcomes that we’re looking for, the vaccine will be available … to distribute to the population,” CSL chief scientific officer Andrew Nash told the publication.
A researcher works in a lab at Oxford University where a potential COVID-19 vaccine is being developed. (AP)
It’ll be thawed after being frozen in liquid nitrogen and then added to a bioreactor where it will go through a fermentation process, grow and multiply.
The vaccine will then be filtered and purified, leaving just the antigen – or vaccine product – ready to be put into dosage vials.
The vaccine is still subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in Australia.
CSL has separate contracts with AstraZeneca and the Australian government to manufacture about 30 million doses of this vaccine candidate.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tours the AstraZeneca lab in Sydney during his announcement of a deal reached on a coronavirus vaccine. (Nine News)
It is manufacturing two separate vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca one and and the University of Queensland vaccine.
Around the world, there are around 150 candidate COVID-19 vaccines in the works, with about 40 having reached the human trial stage.
If the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is proven to be successful, each person will need two doses.
If proven to be effective against the virus, the earliest the vaccines could be rolled out is March, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The government signed two new agreements with pharmaceutical companies Novavax and Pfizer, worth $1.5 billion taking the overall vaccine program to over $3.5 billion.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment would ensure Australia is in the “leading pack of the world” to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.