CSIRO researchers are evaluating potential delivery methods of a COVID-19 vaccine – to see whether an injection or nasal spray provides greater protection from the deadly virus.
CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) Director, Dr Trevor Drew described the Oxford University vaccine currently in its final phase of testing as “very stimulating” to all part of the immune system.
“Oxford University’s vaccine candidate is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine, meaning it is made from a non-replicating version of a common cold virus, an adenovirus,” he said.
“Oxford’s scientists have inserted the SARS-CoV-2 genome into a defective adenovirus, which can begin an infection in human cells but cannot replicate to develop the infection.
“The key coronavirus protein becomes expressed when the adenovirus starts to replicate. The immune system recognises the virus and develops immunity to the SARS CoV-2 virus.
“Because it goes through the initial stages of replication, vaccines of this type are very stimulating to all parts of the immune system, compared to killed vaccines or those which only contain proteins of SARS-CoV-2.”
He said that as part of the CSIRO’s preclinical study of Oxford’s vaccine, scientists were evaluating different administration methods to determine whether an injection or nasal spray would confer better protection for recipients.
“More than 2000 samples are currently being analysed by the team as part of the study,” Dr Drew said.
“The results from this study are currently going through internal and external review, quality assurance and a compliance audit.
“This is all part of the process of rigorously determining the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine candidate, to the standard required by licensing authorities.”
He said the results would be published following the review.
Meanwhile fellow CSIRO researcher, Dr Rob Grenfell says preliminary reports on the Oxford vaccine had shown promising results and a strong immune response.
“While this news is encouraging it’s important to remember there are still hurdles to cross before we have a viable vaccine for COVID-19, including the outcomes of phase 3,” he said.