Perth COVID-19 vaccine trial kicks off

Wednesday, 08 July, 2020

Perth COVID-19 vaccine trial kicks off

More than 4000 people are taking part in a groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine trial at Perth’s Linear Clinical Research.

The vaccine candidate S-Timer was one of the first protein-based vaccine candidates to begin clinical testing to demonstrate safety and immune response against the coronavirus.

The first two participants received the vaccine on 19 June: 10 participants had been dosed as of 24 June. Over the next few months, an additional 140 participants aged between 18 to 75 years will receive the vaccine as part of the Phase 1 clinical trial.

Linear CEO Jayden Rogers said the start of the human trial was an important milestone in the global effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19.

“It usually takes years to get to this stage, but vaccine experts have been working hard around the world to fast-track this promising vaccine candidate,” Rogers explained.

“We were overwhelmed by the support we received from the WA public to trial this vaccine.

“Over 4000 registrations was a new record for Linear and we are appreciative to all of the people who wanted to contribute to finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.

“The participants are doing really well and we are collecting valuable data which will inform this study and many more around the world.”

One of the trial participants is Perth doctor Chris Rynn, who volunteered because he wanted to help in the quest to find a successful vaccine.

“I understand the implications COVID-19 has for the medical profession, so I felt this is an important way I can help in speeding up the process of finding a vaccine,” Dr Rynn said.

“I encouraged my friends to also register for the COVID-19 vaccine trial.

“I have participated in clinical trials at Linear before and am proud to contribute towards medical research.”

The COVID-19 vaccine trial is randomised and double-blind, with some participants receiving the vaccine candidate and others receiving a placebo. Participants receive two injections in the arm 21 days apart and are monitored for an hour in the ward and then from their homes.

Preliminary safety and immunogenicity results are expected in August. If successful, the COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine will be given to thousands of people around the world (as part of the global phase 2b/3 study) by the end of this year.

Rogers said the COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine trial was promising for several reasons:

  • Early access to COVID-19 data and reagents — The vaccine candidate was developed by China-based, global biotechnology company Clover Biopharmaceuticals. Clover was one of the first companies to develop a protein-based vaccine based on the coronavirus Spike (S) protein, which the virus needs to enter host cells.
  • Clover’s Trimer-Tag technology platform is unique in the way it mimics the native viral Spike protein with the aim of producing an immune response specific to the coronavirus. The technology has been safely used in vaccine development for other RNA-based viruses such as influenza, RSV and HIV.
  • Comprehensive preclinical work — While speed has been important in developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19, preclinical testing for safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate has been a priority.
  • Collaboration with renowned global vaccine development experts — The trial features innovations from GSK (UK), Dynavax (US) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Norway).

Rogers said the COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine showed immense potential and securing the trial was a major coup for WA.

“This is one of the most prominent trials globally and WA is playing a significant part because we are recognised as world leaders in early-stage clinical trials,” he said.

“WA is in the unique position of having successfully suppressed COVID-19, so we can now dedicate resources to prevention.

“I applaud the thousands of people who registered to take part in this trial — it further demonstrates how members of our community are willing to play their part in helping fight COVID-19.”

Clover Biopharmaceuticals CEO Joshua Liang — co-inventor of the COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine — said collaborators around the world had been working nonstop on the trial since January.

“We remain focused on developing a safe, effective and accessible COVID-19 vaccine at a scale that can potentially impact the course of the pandemic globally,” he said.

Image caption: Linear staff with David O’Neil, the first person to be dosed with the COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine candidate.

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