Australian scientists claim they have already developed a coronavirus vaccine, but it could take months before it is ready to be rolled out.
Three scientists from the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, believe they have created a vaccine that could immunize against COVID-19.
Dr Keith Chappell, who has completed post-doctoral studies on the stabilisation of viral proteins, told The Australian: ‘In terms of getting a vaccine that we think will work, we think we are already there.’
He has been rushing to develop a safe vaccine alongside colleagues Paul Young and Trent Munro since January.
His team experimented with 250 different formulations before settling on a candidate vaccine virus named S-Spike.
The S-Spike jab is currently being tested on laboratory mice and could see a progression to human trials by June.
They believe the vaccine is on track to be available by the end of the year.
Dr Chappell explained that developing the injection properly would take a long time.
‘Getting a vaccine that’s available for seven billion people on the planet means … we have to move to scale and that’s a very different proposition,’ he said.
He also said the scientists had to be cautious about any commercial risk and refused to jeopardise the safety or efficiency of the vaccine.
The team said that the next step was figuring out how to get the drug into production, which could cost between $20million to $30million.
Negotiations are already in place with regulators, such as the federal government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, who the team met with on Friday to discuss future plans.
So far 204 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia, with three deaths.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Australian government will effectively ban ‘non essential’ public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday – and has warned Australians not to travel overseas.
We will be advising against organised, non-essential gatherings of persons of 500 people or greater from Monday,’ Mr Morrison said.
But Mr Morrison stressed the government’s ban only relates to ‘non-essential organised gatherings’ and doesn’t include schools, university lectures or catching public transport.
He said people should go about their ‘normal everyday business’. The move has been hailed by infectious diseases experts, who say it will be critical in slowing the virus’s spread and help prevent overloading hospital intensive care units.
A travel ban has been put in place for mainland China, Iran, South Korea and Italy.
Mr Morrison said it is unclear whether the travel ban will be extended to other nations at this stage.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told leaders community transmission of the coronavirus was not yet widespread in Australia but the evidence from overseas was that it could spread rapidly among crowds at large events.