Development of a vaccine against Covid-19 in Australia was scrapped on Friday, December 11, after clinical trials produced a false positive HIV result among test participants, the government said in Sydney.
Although this vaccine has shown promise in countering the new coronavirus and that there is no risk of transmitting HIV (the virus responsible for AIDS, editor's note) by administering it, its development has been abandoned for fear of undermining public confidence in vaccines, Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said.
"It would probably have worked very well as a vaccine, but we can not have problems of confidence"
, noted the latter.
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This vaccine candidate, which was still in the first phase of trials at the University of Queensland, used a small amount of HIV protein.
However, it triggered an antibody response that could interfere with HIV testing, explained the Minister of Health, Greg Hunt.
The result prompted the government to cancel plans to purchase millions of doses of the candidate vaccine and instead bolster vaccine orders from AstraZeneca and Novax, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“The University of Queensland vaccine will not be able to continue
, based on scientific advice, and it will no longer be part of Australia's vaccination plan
said Scott Morrison.
Professor Paul Young of the University of Queensland insisted that the HIV protein used in the vaccine was
and presented no health risk to trial participants.
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According to the government, this announcement does not change the schedule to roll out other vaccines in March.
With Australia only recording a small number of infections each day, the government said it could afford to take a relatively cautious approach to vaccines, compared to countries facing a strong spread of the pandemic.
Australia has recorded 28,000 cases of Covid-19 for a population of 25 million, and around 900 deaths.