Australia has a good track record in vaccine development
Nurse Georgina Hoddle lauds Australia’s record in vaccine development, and urges for further development and education on immunisation in the face of COVID-19.
I believe it’s true what Dr Craig Rayner said: “It is a little naive to think because the United States is doing a lot of the vaccine development, that they are going to put us right at the front of the queue”. (‘COVID-19 vaccine in the making’, June-July issue The Lamp)
However, we certainly have the good science, as the development in Australia, many years ago, of the vaccines against rotavirus and the human papillomavirus testify. Of course, we have Emeritus Professor Peter Doherty, Nobel Laureate The Doherty Institute has been awarded AU$3.2 million by the Jack Ma Foundation to expedite the creation of a vaccine against COVID-19. This is in collaboration with Melbourne University. Currently, only the annual influenza vaccine and the one against Q fever are manufactured in Australia.
Vaccines to protect against COVID-19 are also being developed in both Brisbane (Queensland University and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute) and Melbourne (Monash University and biotechnology company Vaxine).
Human trials began in Melbourne in May, with six volunteers injected with a recombinant vaccine created by US company Novavax. It will require a total number of 131 volunteers and first results are expected in July.
COVID-19 has brought many countries to their knees, but Australia has been fortunate as our politicians have been listening to the health and infectious diseases experts, and we have been compliant (on the whole).
There is, however, little education concerning vaccines provided to the general public, apart from the specialist researchers, primary health and NSW Authorised Nurses’ knowledge bank.
Lack of literature on this subject, except from expert and anecdotal evidence offered by general practitioners and nurse immunisers highlights the need to advocate for education programs on the science of immunisation.