Queensland University's coronavirus vaccine trial has been abandoned after test subjects returned false positive HIV results.
UQ was working with Australian global biotech company Commonwealth Serum Laboratorie (CSL) to hopefully produce a homegrown Covid-19 jab. The Australian government put a lot into this avenue and had already ordered 50 million doses if it was found to be effective and subsequently approved.
However, after several test subjects tested positive for HIV (which was a false positive, meaning they didn't have the virus), the decision was made to abandon the trial altogether.
When the results came back, officials alerted the federal government, who then asked for urgent medical advice.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, The National Security Committee of Cabinet agreed to terminate UQ's vaccine trial on the fear it could undermine the public's confidence in the jab.
The University's trial used a protein, of which a small component came from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However there was not enough to be able to infect the host or replicate.
There was 'absolutely no health risk to people' who were injected with the vaccine candidate and the researchers were simply using the protein as a way to molecularly clamp the Covid-19 virus to the vaccine to produce antibodies.
But as a result of the protein being present, it had the potential to interfere with HIV screening tests that look for antibodies.
After Phase 1 trials had finished, the UQ vaccine was found to be safe and effective in tackling the coronavirus.
Despite this massive setback, UQ and CSL will continue their research to see whether they can create a successful Covid-19 vaccine.
Federal MP David Littleproud said this is why the government didn't focus on just one vaccine candidate.
He told Today: "This is why we made sure there were four contracts we signed to make sure that we got a vaccine and this is intrinsically very difficult science that UQ and around the world is trying to break.
"So it was important that we didn't just say, 'You are the winner.' We actually spread our risk and made sure if there was a vaccine we got it and got it quickly.
"I think UQ, I wouldn't write them off yet but I think this backs what the government has done in making sure that we said we will spread our risk and we will make sure we have multiple agencies that are looking at this and gave us the vaccine that is safe.
"That is the main thing. We want a vaccine that is safe and gets us back to our real lives again."
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