SYDNEY: The development of a coronavirus vaccine in Australia has been abandoned after clinical trials produced a false positive HIV result.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the result prompted the government to axe plans to purchase millions of doses of the candidate vaccine. Instead, he added, increase orders of alternatives from AstraZeneca and Novax.
According to Morrison, the University of Queensland vaccine will not be able to proceed based on scientific advice. The candidate vaccine, which was still in phase one trials at the university, used a small amount of HIV protein as a “molecular clamp” but triggered an antibody response that could interfere with HIV screening, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said that although the vaccine had proved promising at suppressing coronavirus and there was no chance of HIV transmission, development was abandoned over fears it could undermine public confidence in vaccinations.
The government said the announcement did not change the planned roll-out of other vaccines to begin in March. Australia has recorded 28,000 cases of Covid-19 in a population of 25 million, with around 900 deaths.