CSIRO starts testing 2 potential COVID-19 vaccines

2 April 2020

CSIRO has started pre-clinical trials of 2 potential COVID-19 vaccines in Geelong, Victoria. The vaccines were developed by Oxford University and a US company, Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

The vaccines will be tested on ferrets, both for effectiveness, and also to evaluate the best method of giving the vaccine – whether that be an intra-muscular injection, a nasal spray or other method. The pre-clinical trials are expected to take 3 months.

The CSIRO team was the first in the world to show that ferrets are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Ferrets are used for research into influenza and other respiratory infections because their lung physiology is similar to that of humans.

The work is the result of a partnership with CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), a global group that aims to derail epidemics by speeding up development of vaccines.

CSIRO was the first research organisation outside of China to grow sufficient quantities of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for research. Researchers used the virus strain isolated by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne, which was the first strain isolated outside of China.


1. Callaway E. Labs rush to study coronavirus in transgenic animals - some are in short supply. News 9 March 2020. Nature 579, 183 (2020) doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00698-x


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