Australian Research Group Receives $4.5 Million to Study Both Natural and Vaccine Immunity to COVID-19

Piedmont a Major Contributor to International Study on Care of Patients Critically Ill with COVID-19

A June 8 article from the University of Sydney takes us to the southeastern Australian State of New South Wales (NSW), where experts have gotten funding for new vaccine-practices research. The researchers formed the Vaccine, Infection and Immunology (VIIM) Collaborative Research Group and will get over $4.5 million from the NSW Government to examine both clinical and immune reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. VIIM brings together experts from two universities, four research institutes, and three health agencies including the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. Tony Cunningham is the director of the Centre for Virus Research, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney, and he was a key player in creating the project. He noted, “We initiated this because we wanted to look at the comparison of vaccine immunity, and also natural immunity after COVID – we want to see how long it lasts, particularly in ageing subjects.” 

A University of Sydney expert, Kristine Macartney points out that while plenty of research is going on worldwide, this will involve the globe’s most complete virus-transmission data set; “We can’t keep COVID out. It’s in the world, and as we engage with the virus we need to have the best science behind us—-We are in a unique position. Because we have mostly not been exposed to the virus, we are not immune and are going to rely heavily on the vaccine.” NSW’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Kerry Chant notes that “With the vaccination rollout now well underway, this surveillance and real-world research will continue to arm us with timely and robust data to ensure the very best outcomes for the people of NSW, and help us navigate the path ahead.” All this creates a platform for future vaccine policies as issues such as booster requirements, next-generation vaccines, and vulnerable groups develop.

Low Infection Rates Enable More Study

Chant emphasizes that NSW is uniquely positioned to answer some immunity issues in that the majority of the county has not been exposed to SARS-CoV-2. “This research will also establish an invaluable biobank of specimens which will be crucial to current and future research to keep the people of NSW healthy and protected from infectious disease,” Dr. Chant stated. According to Sydney News Today, which offers us some more details, the new research project has strong potential to add to our understanding of virus variants. They note that VIIM’s state government funding is staggered over a three-year period. The investment represents a large portion of the government’s prior pledge of $25 million for COVID-19 research. Chant is quoted thusly, “This study also establishes a valuable biobank of specimens, which is essential for current and future studies to keep people in NSW healthy and protected from infectious diseases.”

As described by the University of Sydney, VIIM’s experts in vaccines, infections, and immunity hail from the University of Sydney, the University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute, Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, NSW Health Pathology, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, the University of NSW, Westmead Institute of Medical Research, the Centenary Institute, and the Kirby Institute.