Geelong test subjects to join COVID-19 vaccine trial


About 100 people in Geelong will trial a potential COVID-19 vaccine that's part of a multimillion-dollar push by an American biotechnology company.

Barwon Health chief executive Frances Diver confirmed the region had been chosen to take part.

"There'll be up to 100 people in the community participating in the Novavax trial. This really reflects the reputation of Eugene Athan, our professor of infectious diseases, who is leading that piece of work for our community," Ms Diver said.

Prof Eugene Athan has been key to securing the Novavax trial in Geelong. Picture: Mike Dugdale
Prof Eugene Athan has been key to securing the Novavax trial in Geelong. Picture: Mike Dugdale

The Novavax vaccine candidate has gained recognition because instead of using live COVID-19 virus it uses proteins, created in the laboratory, that trick the body into ­triggering an immune response needed to fight coronavirus.

And the benefits of the potential vaccine include its nanoparticle technology that allows production of it to be scaled up in a short time.

Novavax also have advanced trials of vaccines for ebola, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus underway.

Barwon Health are yet to go public with how the Novavax trial will run in Geelong.

But in May about 130 Australians were involved in a phase one trial.

Those involved met strict health criteria and were aged between 18 and 59.

The group received two injections in their upper arm, three weeks apart, in a bid to determine if the vaccination is safe for human use, and if it provides immunity from COVID-19 and for how long. The participants were not exposed to the virus in any way.

Instead the trial uses blood tests to determine if the vaccine provides the immune response needed to protect people from COVID-19.









Novavax, produced in America after work began in January, has shown promising results during the phase one trial carried out in Melbourne and Brisbane.

It found the vaccine triggered the body's immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the virus.

Novavax recently received $590 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to run human trials.

Oxford University's vaccine candidate, that uses a chimpanzee adenovirus has been successful in a trial of 1077 people.

It was initially tested on animals at the CSIRO in Geelong and has now been expanded to an advanced stage 3 trial in South Africa and Brazil of 5000 people in each country as well as 30,000 people in the US.



Originally published as Geelong test subjects to join COVID-19 vaccine trial