Australian Government has canceled the production of a locally made vaccine against COVID-19 after trials showed it could interfere with HIV diagnosis; with the government instead securing additional doses of rival vaccines.
On Friday, the government said it’s replacing most of the CSL doses with more purchases of other planned vaccines. Australia has requested an additional 20 million shots being created by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc; and 11 million more Novavax Inc. doses, the government said.
The CSL disappointment shows that notwithstanding the weighty advancement by Pfizer Inc. also, Moderna Inc. in delivering a vaccination; the way to an effective vaccine remains difficult.
Australia’s government had just tried to spread that hazard by requesting shots from Pfizer and BioNTech SE, Novavax, and AstraZeneca.
Even without CSL’s doses, more than 140 million units of vaccines will be available in Australia, Health Minister Greg Hunt said. The country is home to about 26 million people.
“This is one of the highest ratios of vaccine purchases and availability to the population in the world;” Hunt said. “So we’re in a strong position.”
CSL said it would not progress to phase 2/3 clinical trials. It said a small component of the vaccine comes from the human immunodeficiency virus; or HIV, and while that posed no risk of infection, some trial participants had false-positive tests for HIV.
The potential for this to happen was anticipated before the trial; and participants had been pre-warned, CSL said.
“It is generally agreed that significant changes would need to be made to well-established HIV testing procedures in the health-care setting; to accommodate rollout of this vaccine,” the company said.
CSL shares fell 3.2 percent to Australian $291.78 at 12:37 p.m. in Sydney. The stock is up almost 6 percent this year.
Vaccines are proving key to reopening the world economy nine months into the worst pandemic in a generation.
The UK and US have approved the Pfizer shot, and other countries are scrambling to secure deals as well as authorize vaccines for public use.
For Australia, yet to approve any shot, a broadly dispersed vaccination would permit the country to facilitate probably the most restrictive border curbs in the world.
Teacher Paul Young from the University of Queensland said that despite the fact that it was conceivable to re-engineer the vaccine, the group didn’t have the advantage of time.
“Doing so would interfere with improvement by another 12 or so months, and keeping in mind that tough decision to take, the dire requirement for a vaccine has to be everyone’s priority.”