Covid-19 vaccine: Australia stops trials after volunteers develop antibodies for HIV

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 12, 2020

Though there were no serious cases reported in phase 1 trail, the Government has stopped phase 2 and 3 clinical trials

Australia had to suspend the development of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate after numerous volunteers in the early-stage trials developed antibodies for HIV, as per media reports.

However, there were no serious cases reported in the 216 participants phase 1 trial of the v451 Covid-19 vaccine candidate that is being developed by the University of Queensland with partner biotech company CSL.

The official statement from the scientists revealed that some patients demonstrated antibodies towards fragments of an HIV protein (gp41). The researchers consulted the Australian Government. Following which they decided to not move ahead with phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

The vaccine was one of four candidates that Australia had committed to buy. It also placed the order for 51 million doses of the experimental vaccine. The university said there is no possibility the vaccine causes infection, and routine follow-up tests confirmed there is no HIV present.

Commenting on the development, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said abandoning the trial should show Australians the Government and researchers were proceeding carefully.

“What happened today is not a surprise to the Government. We are moving swiftly but not with any undue haste,” he said. He added that the system’s working as it should and Australians are protected, as always.

The University of Queensland began the trials of its vaccine in July this year. It earlier noted that the vaccine has shown promising results by eliciting robust responses against novel coronavirus while maintaining a safety profile.

According to the statement by Queensland, however, significant changes would need to be made to well-established HIV testing procedures in the healthcare setting to accommodate the rollout of this vaccine.

Published on December 12, 2020

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