Australia on Friday scrapped a nearly $ 750 million plan for a large order of locally developed coronovirus vaccine after generating false positive test results for HIV in some volunteers participating in a trial study.
Of Dozens of coronavirus vaccines are being tested worldwideThe Australian was abandoned for the first time. While its developers stated that the experimental vaccine appeared to be safe and effective, false positives were at risk of undermining confidence in the public’s attempt to vaccinate.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that his government would compensate for the loss of 51 million doses purchased from the Australian consortium by increasing the orders for vaccines made by AstraZeneca and vaccines. Novavax. The government has said that it plans to start vaccinating citizens by March.
“We can’t have a problem with trust,” he told reporters, “and we are now as a nation, with a good portfolio of vaccines, able to best protect these decisions to the Australian people . “
The Australian setback showed the misunderstanding that could inevitably occur when scientists, during an epidemic that killed more than 1.5 million people, stopped the normal years of process to develop vaccines in a matter of months crowd.
But as soon as Australian scientists made their announcement, the fruits of that breed became apparent. United States Came one step closer Issuing its first approval for the Kovid-19 vaccine, a panel of experts advising the Food and Drug Administration supported a Pfizer vaccine that is already in use in the UK.
The problem with the Australian vaccine, developed by the University of Queensland and biotech company CSL, was related to the use of two pieces of protein found in HIV.
The protein formed part of a molecular “clamp” that the researchers placed on the spike that surrounded the coronovirus and allowed it to enter healthy cells. The clamp stabilizes the spikes, allowing the immune system to react more effectively to the vaccine.
Researchers said that there is no risk of volunteers getting infected with the virus using HIV protein. But the clamp produced antibodies recognized by HIV tests at a higher level than what scientists had expected.
Because HIV tests cannot be rapidly re-engineered, researchers decided to skip the development of the vaccine. The move could have caused widespread concern among Australians that the vaccine may cause AIDS.
Soon Use on hamster Showed that the vaccine protected them from coronavirus. When the Phase I trial on humans began in July, 216 volunteers “were fully aware of the possibility of an immune response” to the clamp, the University of Queensland and CSL said in a statement on Friday.
John P. Moore said that an “honest error” was the cost of money, not human life, said an immunologist at Weil Cornell Medical College in New York.
“I’m sure many people are very embarrassed by it,” Professor Moore said. He said, ‘It is not a big deal to be associated with such a mistake. But when you are running at a speed of 90 mph, sometimes you travel. “
Confused by the terms about coronavirus testing? Let us help:
- Antibodies: A protein produced by the immune system Which can properly identify and engage specific types of viruses, bacteria or other invaders.
- Antibody Testing / Serology Testing: A test that detects antibodies to coronovirus. Antibodies appear in the blood approximately one week after the coronavirus is infected with the body. Because antibodies take so long to develop, An antibody test can not do Reliably diagnose ongoing infection. But it can identify those who were exposed to coronovirus in the past.
- Antigen test: This test detects bits of coronavirus virus called antigens. Antigen tests are faster, take five minutes less, but are less accurate From tests that detect genetic material from the virus.
- Coronavirus: Any virus that belongs to the orthocoronavirina family of viruses. The cornivirus that causes Kovid-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2.
- COVID-19: Disease caused by the new coronavirus. Name is short for Coronavirus disease 2019.
- Isolation and Quarantine: Isolation is the isolation of those who know they are ill with an infectious disease that is not sick. Quarantine A refers to restricting the movement of people exposed to the virus.
- Nasopharyngeal Swab: A long, flexible rod, stuck with a soft broom, inserted from the nose to take the specimen deep into the place where the nasal cavity meets the throat. Can take samples for coronovirus testing Must also be collected with swab that does not go deep into the nose – Sometimes called nasal inflammation – or oral or throat swelling.
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): Scientists use PCR to make millions of copies of genetic material in a sample. Tests using PCR enable researchers to detect coronaviruses When it is rare.
- Viral Load: The amount of virus in a person’s body. In people infected with coronavirus, Symptoms of viral load may begin before they appear, If symptoms appear at all.
The University of Queensland was one of several causes of vaccine development that contains a coronovirus protein that indicates a response from the immune system. Protein-based vaccines have a longer track record than some newer approaches that use coronavirus vaccines, such as On the basis of viral genes Or so-called Adenovirus.
One of the major protein-based vaccines has been made by Maryland-based Novacs, which is in Phase 3 trials, and another from Clover Biopharmaceutical in China that is in Phase 1 trials.
In the case of the Australian vaccine, it was found to produce a strong immune response and according to scientists the phase 1 trial showed no serious side effects. Statement. Proceeding with vaccine testing would require “significant changes” in HIV testing procedures, he said.
“Doing so will return development by another 12 or so months, and while it’s a difficult decision to take, the immediate need for a vaccine is everyone’s priority,” said Paul Young, a virologist at the university who took the vaccine Helped to lead, the statement said. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon.
Australia’s Minister of Health, Greg Hunt, told reporters that the country still had access to 140 million coronovirus vaccines – more than enough to cover a population of about 25 million people.
“It’s a process of doing scientific work,” Mr. Hunt said. “It is a planning process to work on. This is an honest account of some of the challenges we have faced. “
Carl Zimmer contributed reporting.