University of Queensland vaccine becomes seventh CEPI-supported COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enter clinical trials

UQ Phase 1 website

The first participants were today enrolled into a Phase 1 clinical trial of the University of Queensland's (UQ) COVID-19 vaccine candidate. UQ's vaccine is the seventh of CEPI's portfolio of nine COVID-19 vaccines to enter clinical trials, less than six months after CEPI's COVID-19 programme was launched.

In January 2020, CEPI announced an investment of up to US$4.5m to advance the development of UQ's vaccine into clinical testing as quickly as possible. This was bolstered by the agreement of a partnership between CEPI, UQ, and CSL last month, through which CEPI and CSL will fund clinical development and industrial-scale manufacturing of the vaccine to allow the production of potentially millions of doses of vaccine per year, should the vaccine be approved.

The COVID-19 vaccine is based on UQ's innovative rapid response molecular clamp platform which aims to lock proteins on the surface of the virus to allow the immune system to respond more effectively. Preclinical testing showed that the UQ vaccine was effective in inducing antibodies that were able to neutralize the virus. Further studies have shown that the vaccine was safe to give to people.

UQ Phase 1 web 2

UQ's Prof Trent Munro, Prof Paul Young, Prof Keith Chappell

In total, around 120 volunteers will take part in the clinical trial of UQ's vaccine candidate which is being conducted in Brisbane, Australia. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety of the vaccine and the immune response it generates, with preliminary results expected to be released by the end of September 2020.

If the UQ COVID-19 vaccine is successful, 100% of CEPI's vaccine allocation will be distributed through COVAX, a global initiative that will ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, at all levels of development, that wish to participate. COVAX aims to speed up the availability of vaccines at scale, making 2 billion doses of vaccine available in 2021.