Clinical trials begin for new Melbourne-made COVID-19 vaccines
Posted On May 12, 2022
Six Victorians have rolled up their sleeves to become human test subjects for two brand-new Melbourne-made COVID-19 vaccines.
The inoculations have been developed by the Doherty Institute and Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
They are administered as a fourth dose and are designed to be more effective against new strains of COVID-19.
For 61-year-old Stephen, putting his hand up to become the first volunteer was important.
“I wanted to contribute something,” he said.
“I don’t feel as though my experience of COVID was nearly as stressful as so many others.
“And also I believe in the science.”
Your COVID-19 questions answered
Head of the Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group at the Doherty Institute Professor Terry Nolan said the participants involved were required to keep a diary of any symptoms they experience over the following month.
“In addition, these initial participants and all others in the study will have numerous assessments, including a blood test, and after 30 days so we can analyse their antibody response,” he said.
“We’re probably going to need COVID vaccines forever.”
Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor Colin Pouton said it was an “exciting moment” for the team to see patients receive the first doses.
“Getting to this stage has been an enormous team effort across both institutes, and we look forward to seeing how the vaccines continue to perform in clinic,” he said.
“I think we have to be prepared for new variants. I think Omicron obviously took everyone by surprise.”
There are two different vaccines being tested.
The first is the Doherty’s traditional protein-based inoculation, while Monash is trialling a newer mRNA vaccine.
Both will target the tip of the COVID-19 spike protein, the dangerous part of the virus that infiltrates cells.
“We have good reason to think both will be effective but you don’t quite know until you see the data in participants,” Pouton said.
Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford said the trial was about boosting the state’s vaccine supply.
“We did have for quite some months where we had an Australian population that were busting for a vaccine and couldn’t get one,” she said.
“We never want to be in that situation again.”
It is uncertain how long the trial will take to complete.