Coronavirus: CSIRO begins testing possible COVID-19 vaccine

CSIRO scientists have begun work on testing for a potential vaccine to coronavirus.

The testing is expected to take three months and will be carried out at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong as part of a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

The first pre-clinical candidates of a vaccine have been chosen from Oxford University and Inovio Pharmaceuticals in the US.

Further candidates are likely to follow.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the start of vaccine was a significant step.

"Beginning vaccine candidate testing at CSIRO is a critical milestone in the fight against COVID-19, made possible by collaboration both within Australia and across the globe," Dr Marshall said.

"CSIRO researchers are working around the clock to combat this disease which is affecting so many. We will keep working until this viral enemy is defeated."

The vaccine testing comes after the CSIRO said it had scaled up other potential vaccine candidates at its biologics production facility in Melbourne.

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Australia's science agency was the first research organisation outside of China to generate enough stock of the virus to allow for research into a potential vaccine.

A biological model of the virus was created in February with researchers quickly progressing to studying coronavirus in animals.

Scientists starting to test vaccines for COVID-19 at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Picture: supplied

Scientists starting to test vaccines for COVID-19 at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Picture: supplied

Researchers said the virus changes into a number of distinct 'clusters' and scientists are looking at how this would impact on how a vaccine is developed.

Australian Animal Health Laboratory director Professor Drew said researchers were looking into the best way to give the vaccine for better protection, such as an intra-muscular injection or a nasal spray.

"We have been studying [coronavirus] since January and getting ready to test the first vaccine candidates as soon as they are available," he said.

"We are carefully balancing operating at speed with the critical need for safety in response to this global public health emergency."

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This story CSIRO begins testing possible coronavirus vaccine first appeared on The Canberra Times.