U.S. company begins coronavirus vaccine trial in Australia

If successful, the company could produce at least 100 million vaccine doses this year

Updated: May 26, 2020 - 12:20pm

U.S. biotech company Novavax on Tuesday began a coronavirus vaccine trial in Australia. 

Researchers injected six of 131 volunteers to conduct Phase One of the company’s trial, which will allow researchers to monitor the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.

There are presently about a dozen coronavirus vaccines in the early stages of testing and development around the world, primarily in the U.S., China and Europe.

Novavax's chief of research, Dr. Gregory Glenn, said that they are hoping, if the vaccine proves effective, that the company will be able to “start deploying it by the end of this year.”

Novavax could potentially produce 100 million vaccine doses this year and 1.5 billion in 2021, Glenn also said.

Novavax is attempting to create a recombinant vaccine, which means the company is using genetic engineering to grow harmless versions of the "spike" protein found in the coronavirus, so that the immune system will learn to recognize and fight the proteins before being exposed to the actual virus.

This is a slightly different method than several other companies are using, though most are aiming to train the immune system to respond to the spike protein that layers the surface of the virus.

Results of the first phase of the clinical trial are expected in July.

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