Coronavirus vaccine progress report: the projects bidding to win the race for a COVID-19 vaccine

With over 140 vaccine candidates in various stages of development globally, the ABC has taken a look at the role that Australian researchers are playing in the effort to produce a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. 

ABC: Coronavirus vaccine progress:the projects bidding to win the race for a COVID-19 vaccine 

To further explore the COVID-19 vaccine development process and hear from a variety of national and international experts, please subscribe to our podcast series:
COVID-19 Road to a vaccine 

New immunisation reference page: Vaccine development and safety

In an effort to promote confidence in the safety and efficacy of immunisation, MVEC has looked at the steps undertaken by vaccine candidates prior to being registered for use in vaccination programs. Post-licensure surveillance programs are also important for the early detection of any unexpected safety signals that may arise.

To learn more please visit our MVEC page Vaccine development and safety

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 7: Professor Norman Baylor

In episode 7 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford speaks with Professor Norman Baylor. Professor Baylor is the former Director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review Center at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is the President and CEO of Biologics Consulting and current advisor to the WHO.

In this episode they discuss:

  • The important role of regulatory authorities in the development and release of new vaccines
  • Emergency Use Authorisations (EUA) and their use
  • Compressed timelines in the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines
  • Requirements of regulatory bodies in the development of vaccines
  • Opportunities for collaboration/”work-sharing” between the national regulatory bodies (FDA, EMA and TGA)
  • The role of regulatory bodies in vaccine safety


Download the episode at:

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COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 6: Professor Paul Offit

In episode 6 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, speaks to Professor Paul Offit. Professor Offit is an infectious diseases physician and Director of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP) Vaccine Education Center (VEC). The VEC website inspired the creation of the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre, the host of this podcast series. 

In this episode they discuss:

  • The impact of SARS-CoV-2 on health care workers and the importance of a vaccine
  • Preventative therapies and randomised controlled trials in a pandemic, specifically the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 and the other trials involving health care workers
  • COVID-19 in children - do they play a role in transmission? Will they be a target for vaccine studies?
  • Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS) - how can we factor this emerging condition into safety planning?


You can listen to this episode here:

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COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 5: Professor Terry Nolan

In episode 5 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford speaks to Professor Terry Nolan. Professor Nolan is a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor at the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. He heads up VIRGO, the vaccine and immunisation research group, a collaboration between Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. VIRGO has the largest and longest standing child and adolescent vaccine population research and clinical trials program in Australia. He previously chaired ATAGI, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and was a member of SAGE, the World Health Organisation's main advisory group on vaccines and immunisation. They discuss the COVID-19 candidate vaccines from an Australian perspective and Australia's role in global clinical trials.  


Listen on:

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COVID19 Road to a vaccine podcast episode 4: Professor Kanta Subbarao

In episode 4 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, will be speaking to Professor Kanta Subbarao. Professor Subbarao has been the Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza since 2016, based at The Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is a virologist and physician who specialises in paediatric infectious diseases. Her research is focused on influenza, as well as newly emerging viral diseases of global importance such as SARS and MERS, which includes immune responses to infection and vaccination. 

In this episode they discuss:

  • The specific virus characteristics of SARS-CoV-2
  • How the biosafety laboratory at VIDRL (Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory) were able to culture the SARS-CoV-2 virus and distribute their findings globally
  • The origin of coronaviruses and why this pandemic strain is different
  • The spike protein and the important role antibodies play in the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  • Immunological principles in the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  • How to determine an antibody is functional and protective 
  • The likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 changing over time 

You can listen via our podcast page or via the links below:

Spreaker - Apple - Spotify 

Flu deaths prevented as cases plummet amid coronavirus lockdowns, AMA says

New data as reported by the ABC suggest that social distancing measures, reduced travel and other restrictions implemented in the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have resulted in a sharp decline in the number of influenza cases. 

Dr Chris Moy of the Australian Medical Association is careful to note that we may have actually delayed an influenza outbreak, but still believes the number of influenza cases will be less as we have a far more immunised population this year. 

Read more here: 

ABC: Flu deaths prevented as cases plummet amid coronavirus lockdowns, AMA says 

The MVEC team strongly support vaccination as a way to protect from seasonal influenza, read more in our MVEC Influenza vaccine recommendations

COVID19 Road to a vaccine podcast episode 3: Professor Andrew Pollard

In episode 3 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford will be speaking to Professor Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford. Professor Pollard is head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who, along with the Jenner Institute, are running the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial.
They will be be discussing:
  • ​The Oxford Vaccine Centre's COVID-19 vaccine trial being run by the Oxford Vaccine Group and The Jenner Institute which Professor Pollard is co-leading 
  • How the Oxford Vaccine Group's previous work on the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus vaccine enabled them to commence work on a SARS-2 vaccine very quickly, using the same platform
  • How the prior research into MERS and SARS vaccines gave huge insight into biology of coronaviruses and likely protective antigens
  • Vaccine safety concerns in vaccine development like antibody enhanced disease (AED) and the important role of vaccine safety in trial design and evaluation
  • An update on progress of The Oxford Vaccine Centre's current trials with the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine
  • The use of a control arm in randomised trials and how the COVID-19 Oxford Vaccine Trial are using a meningococcal vaccine in their control arm 
  • How declining disease in the community resulting in lower transmission and flattening of the curve affects both vaccine trial design and location of study sites
  • The upscaling of vaccine manufacturing required in a pandemic and how critical it is that there is global, equitable access to vaccine(s) when they are available
You can listen via our podcast page or via the links below:

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 2: Professor Kathryn Edwards

In episode 2 of our ‘COVID19 Road to a vaccine series’, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Melbourne, Australia, speaks with Professor Kathryn Edwards. Dr Edwards is a professor of paediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is also vice-chair for clinical research. She is an internationally-recognised expert in vaccinology and, in particular, vaccine safety. 
They will be discussing the important topic of vaccine safety when developing a new vaccine, including some of the challenges faced in the COVID19 vaccine development pathway.
In this episode they discuss:
  • Professor Edwards' perspective on vaccine safety across her roles as a clinician/scientist/researcher
  • Adverse events following immunisation and their implications when developing new vaccines
  • Vaccine safety across the different phases (I to IV) of clinical trials
  • The importance of data safety and monitoring committees in vaccine trials
  • What we can learn from the historical research into the development of SARS and MERS vaccines
  • What is ADE (antibody-dependent enhancement of virus infection) and why is it an important consideration in COVID19 vaccine development?
  • What are adjuvants and how does the use of them affect safety planning?
  • Should pregnant women and children be involved in vaccine trials and how can their participation be managed safely?
  • The importance of transparency and honest communication with the public in regards to vaccine safety

You can listen to the episode via our podcast page or via the links below:

Spreaker - Apple - Spotify 

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 1: Professor Stanley Plotkin

In Episode 1 of our new podcast series, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, a vaccinologist and consultant paediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) & Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne, talks with Stanley Plotkin, Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania; who is well known internationally for his role in vaccine development.

In this episode they discuss:

  • Professor Plotkin’s role in the development of the rubella vaccine, still used throughout the world today
  • His role as the Editor in Chief of the ‘Vaccines’ textbook
  • His role in the formation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) and CEPI’s current role in global COVID-19 vaccine development
  • What can we learn from the H1N1 pandemic in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • How developing a vaccine against coronaviruses is critical to the future of civilisation as economies are being destroyed by these viruses
  • Human challenge models and some of the ethical considerations we need to tackle if these sorts of trials are going to be undertaken to support COVID-19 vaccine development
  • Success can only be achieved through global collaboration in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • How the practical aspects of distributing a vaccine on this scale have never been faced before and the importance of thinking outside the box!


Listen to the episode here:

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