Aussie medical breakthrough's hope for virus vaccine

 

A stop gap "passive vaccine" for COVID-19 will see antibodies harvested from the blood of patients who have recovered from the virus injected into vulnerable people.

It comes as losing your sense of smell has emerged as one of the first signs of COVID-19.

Meanwhile University of Queensland researchers are looking for 100 healthy volunteers to take part in clinical trials of a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in the middle of the year.

The Doherty Institute in Melbourne is working on a new rapid COVID-19 test that takes just 30 minutes to get a result an improvement on the three hours it takes now.

And chemists have been told to refuse to fill scripts for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine which has emerged as a promising cure for COVID-19 as panic buying threatens to overwhelm supplies.

The Doherty Institute has been given $2 million in funding to work on a short term "passive vaccine" against coronavirus that could be given to health workers and vulnerable patients.

It extends work undertaken by researchers in China who trailed injecting the blood plasma of people who recovered from COVID-19 into sick people in the hope the antibodies would help clear the infection.

 

Doherty Institute Immunologist Professor Katherine Kedzierska and Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Carolien Van de Sandt with COVID-19 blood samples kept on ice at the Doherty Institute. Picture: David Caird
Doherty Institute Immunologist Professor Katherine Kedzierska and Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Carolien Van de Sandt with COVID-19 blood samples kept on ice at the Doherty Institute. Picture: David Caird

 

The Paul Ramsay Foundation has donated $2 million towards the project.

The injection would have to be repeated every two months but could provide protection for health workers and vulnerable Australians until a proper vaccine can be developed.

The Doherty Institute is also working on a new rapid COVID 19 test that takes just 30 minutes to get a result an improvement on the three hours it takes now.

Meanwhile University of Queensland researchers are poised to start clinical trials of a candidate vaccine for COIVID-19 in the middle of the year.

 

 

UQ researcher Dr Keith Chappell said the vaccine was looking "extraordinarily good" but it could be 12 months before it was ready to use even if trials were successful.

Ear nose and throat doctors in Korea, German and the UK have reported that losing your sense of smell could be one of the first signs you have COVID-19.

One in three COVID-19 patients in Korea and half the patients in Germany suffered a decline in their ability to smell and could help identify people who had the virus but showed no symptoms Flinders University Professor Simon Carney said.

 

A blood sample from a coronavirus infected patient. Picture: David Caird
A blood sample from a coronavirus infected patient. Picture: David Caird

 

Excitement about a potential "cure" for COVID 19 about to be trialled in 50 Australian hospitals has caused a run people purchasing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

News Corp reported on the weekend it was one of two drugs that will be trialled in combination on patients in 50 Australian hospitals to beat the virus.

US President Trump also mentioned the drug in a recent news conference.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia asked chemists not to dispense the drug unless it was for inflammatory conditions or the suppression and treatment of malaria.

Australian community pharmacies have seen unprecedented demand for the drug as doctors prescribed it for other doctors and their families; dentists prescribed it to patients and their families; Non-medical prescribers prescribed bulk amounts of the drug, he said.

"If this medication does indeed have the efficacy that we would desire against COVID-19 then it needs to be prescribed and used judiciously," PSA president Associate Professor Chris Freeman said.

Originally published as Aussie medical breakthrough offers hope for virus vaccine



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