Australia has canceled an order for 51 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine under development by CSL Ltd. and the University of Queensland after the trials encountered difficulties.
The government announced Friday that it was replacing most doses of CSL with more purchases of other planned vaccines. Australia has ordered an additional 20 million doses under development by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc, and an additional 11 million doses from Novavax Inc., the government said.
The failure of CSL shows that despite the revolutionary progress of Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. in producing an inoculation, the path to an effective vaccine remains difficult. The Australian government had previously sought to spread this risk by ordering injections from Pfizer and BioNTech SE, Novavax and AstraZeneca.
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Even without the doses of CSL, more than 140 million units of vaccine will be available in Australia, said Health Minister Greg Hunt. The country has about 26 million people. “This is one of the highest ratios of vaccine procurement and availability to population in the world,” Hunt said. “We are therefore in a position of strength.”
CSL has said it will not move to Phase 2/3 clinical trials. He said a small component of the vaccine comes from the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and while this poses no risk of infection, some trial participants had false positive HIV tests. .
The possibility of this happening was anticipated before the trial and participants had been warned, CSL said.
“It is generally accepted that significant changes would need to be made to well-established HIV testing procedures in the healthcare setting to allow the deployment of this vaccine,” the company said.
CSL shares fell 3.2% to A $ 291.78 at 12:37 p.m. in Sydney. The stock is up nearly 6% this year.
Vaccines are proving essential for reopening the global economy nine months after the start of the worst pandemic in a generation. The UK and US have approved the Pfizer vaccine, and other countries are working to strike deals and release vaccines for public use.
For Australia, which has yet to approve a shot, a widely distributed vaccination would allow the country to ease some of the world’s most restrictive borders.
University of Queensland professor Paul Young said that while it was possible to redesign the vaccine, the team didn’t have the luxury of time. “It would delay development for about another 12 months, and while it is a difficult decision to make, the urgent need for a vaccine must be everyone’s priority.
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