COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts in Australia

Vaccine Efforts in Australia

Vaccine development during a pandemic happens at a global scale and is underway in several countries, including Australia. The first vaccine to make it into clinical trials in mid-March is a lipid-encapsulated mRNA vaccine. For this vaccine, a short piece of the genetic material from the virus (mRNA) is coated with an oily layer (lipid). The lipid helps the mRNA get inside a person's muscle cells, and the mRNA provides a blueprint to make the spike protein the antigen (target). The mRNA itself acts as an adjuvant (danger signal). This vaccine is now being given to volunteers in a phase I clinical trial in Seattle.

The main advantage of this vaccine is that it can be manufactured very quickly. The DNA sequence of SARS-CoV-2 used to design this vaccine was first published in January and the vaccine was ready for trials in mid-March, which is an incredibly tight turnaround for a vaccine.

But this type of vaccine has not been widely used in humans and we don't know if it will induce robust immune responses. While modest immunity would be better than no immunity, we may need additional, more potent vaccines in the longer term.

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