‘Unexpected finding’ killed vaccine trial

By | December 11, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday it has terminated its $ 1 billion deal for the vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and global biotech company CSL because trial participants were returning false-positive HIV test results.

There were fears these results could undermine confidence in other vaccine candidates, so the decision was made not to go forward with the next phase of trials.

Professor Paul Young, head of the UQ’s vaccine team, said they were “devastated” by the outcome.

As the vaccine’s molecular clamp technology uses two fragments of a protein found in HIV, researchers anticipated that this kind of reaction may be seen in some of the volunteers but not on this scale.

“But we weren’t expecting that all of the [trial participants] would respond with this low-level antibody that was picked up in the tests,” he said.

“That was the unexpected finding.”

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Anton Nilsson, NCA NewsWire

The NSW pandemic initiative that would give each resident $ 100 to spend on food and entertainment has been delayed for an important reason.

A trial version of the program was set to begin this week but has instead been postponed.

The decision to push back the trial of the “dine and discover” program until early next year was made after businesses that were to partake in the scheme asked for a delay.

Restaurants in The Rocks, a central Sydney neighbourhood where 500 residents were supposed to get a sneak-preview of the voucher scheme from last Wednesday, felt that holiday business was going well enough without the voucher scheme.

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Many were booked out and asked for it to be rolled out in January instead, when crowds are expected to thin out.

The pilot rollout was supposed to come ahead of the statewide launch of the program in mid-January.

Another trial was planned for the outback town of Broken Hill starting Monday, December 14. That has also been delayed until January.

The state government is hoping to use the pilot phase of the program to iron out any wrinkles before rolling out the voucher giveaway across the state.

Anyone who wants to receive a voucher must register for an account with Service NSW.

The money will come in the form of four $ 25 vouchers, with half the cash earmarked for food and the other half for fun.

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Department of Health Secretary and former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy told reporters today that the risks of the University of Queensland’s vaccine became “a bigger problem than anyone had anticipated”.

The decision to abandon UQ’s vaccine trial was made public early this morning, after trial participants returned false positive HIV test results.

Professor Murphy said “no warnings were ignored” about the possibility of false-positives in the trial.

Picture: Gary Ramage/NCANewsWire

“The possibility of false positives was raised by the University of Queensland very early on and was seen as a very, very unlikely possibility because the fragment of the HIV virus molecule was small,” he said.

“It was unfortunately an unexpectedly high rate when the data came in.

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“The risks were appropriately taken and unfortunately it just became a bigger problem than anyone had anticipated.”

SA Health have announced that from next Monday, December 14, masks will no longer be mandatory at pharmacies.

The measure was put into place during the Adelaide outbreak in mid-November.

Customers have been reminded, however, to keep wearing them if they are visiting a chemist until the weekend’s over, and to “be considerate of pharmacy staff”.

From 14 December, masks will no longer be mandatory at pharmacies. Until then, please continue to wear a mask and be considerate of pharmacy staff.

Updated FAQs will be issued on Monday 14 December. You will be able to find them here: https://t.co/am1otOgmr4 pic.twitter.com/V8T8KpE4WG

— SA Health (@SAHealth) December 11, 2020

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Australian researchers working on a COVID-19 vaccine have been left “devastated” after an “unexpected finding” during human trials forced the whole program to be scrapped.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday it has terminated its $ 1 billion deal for the vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and global biotech company CSL because trial participants were returning false-positive HIV test results.

There were fears these results could undermine confidence in other vaccine candidates, so the decision was made not to go forward with the next phase of trials.

Professor Paul Young, head of the UQ’s vaccine team, said they were “devastated” by the outcome.

“The last 24 hours have been particularly difficult for the team,” Professor Paul Young, the head of the UQ’s vaccine team, said.

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“We’re devastated. The last 11 months we’ve been living and breathing this particular project. It’s challenging times.

“But that’s science.”

As the vaccine’s molecular clamp technology uses two fragments of a protein found in HIV, researchers anticipated that this kind of reaction may be seen in some of the volunteers but not on this scale.

“But we weren’t expecting that all of the [trial participants] would respond with this low-level antibody that was picked up in the tests,” he said.

“That was the unexpected finding.”

Professor Young said although it was possible to re-engineer their vaccine, there would be little point at this stage in the pandemic.

“Doing so would set back development by another 12 or so months, and while this is a tough decision to take, the urgent need for a vaccine has to be everyone’s priority,” he said.

“I said at the start of vaccine development that there were no guarantees, but what is really encouraging is that the core technology approach we used has passed the major clinical test.

“It is a safe and well-tolerated vaccine, producing the strong virus-neutralising effect that we were hoping to see.”

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