A promising vaccine, pioneered in long-term protection of the world from COVID-19, can be manufactured on Australian shores as medical experts promise to use all available options to achieve safe and effective bursts.
After abandoning the University of Queensland’s protein-based vaccine, the federal government is currently in talks to domestically produce the Novavax candidate – which uses a similar technology – if studies show it is effective.
The Daily Telegraph believes Melbourne-based manufacturer CSL has the potential capacity to produce a large volume of the 51 million cans that Australia has so far received under a sales contract with Novavax.
Professor Paul Kelly, chief medical officer, said the current Novavax phase three study of 30,000 US participants had shown « very strong performance » that was much « faster » than expected.
A combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 study followed, which found that recipients produced more antibodies than people who had recovered from severe COVID-19.
« I have a strong feeling that Novavax, or one of the other protein vaccines, will be the long-term vaccination option for the world, » said Prof. Kelly.
« We will probably have the full dossier for data on this vaccine before the middle of the year.
Protein vaccines took longer to manufacture, according to Prof. Kelly, but long-term protection was an unknown factor in the groundbreaking mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
When Australia first signed the Novavax vaccine deal, the doses were expected to be made in the US or Europe, but making the jab locally would further strengthen the supply chain.
Prof. Kelly on Wednesday accused some of his colleagues in the medical community of « selective » use of data as several called for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be discontinued on the basis of an interim study that, in some cases, showed 62 percent effectiveness against infections.
« I would urge people looking at this to look at the full information, and not just pick one character from this study, » he said. « The pooled (effectiveness) result was 70 percent. In one group it was 90 percent. »
Although the AstraZeneca does not achieve the same rate of effectiveness as Pfizer, which has been shown to prevent infection 95 percent of the time, it nonetheless critically prevents all cases of serious illness without hospitalizing a hospital recipient.
The epidemiologist and co-chair of Australia’s Technical Group on Immunization, Professor Allen Cheng, said the country should « use all available vaccines that prevent COVID » – even if they don’t « reduce transmission as much as we would like ».
« We don’t have a choice of using one vaccine or the other, » he said. « We have a choice of either offering everything we have now to protect as many people as possible or keeping some effective vaccines in stock. »
Prof. Cheng said the Pfizer vaccine, of which Australia only has 10 million doses, « looks as good as it gets ».
« The (AstraZeneca) vaccine may not be that good … but it can be introduced faster, » he said.
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