In April 2020, we were proud to make a $1 million donation, through Golden Casket unclaimed prize money, to the University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences to help accelerate Australian research into a COVID-19 vaccine.

We are pleased to share some exciting progress from the teams at the University of Queensland, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and global biotechnology company CSL.

A landmark partnership has been forged between the three organisations to fasttrack the development, manufacture and distribution of a University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine, once approved.It will allow for the production of up to 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by CSL by the end of next year.

Early preclinical trials showed the UQ COVID-19 vaccine produced high levels of antibodies that neutralised the virus, with Phase 1 safety trials set to be conducted in Brisbane from early July.

UQ researcher Professor Paul Young said 120 people were currently being recruited for their vaccine’s first trial, which will test its safety and monitor the impact on the immune system.

Should clinical trials be successful, a vaccine could be available in 2021, with the initial phase of large-scale production planned to take place at CSL’s biotech manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Australia.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the university was tremendously proud of the dedicated scientists who had made many sacrifices since starting work on the project in January.

“Reaching this milestone would not have been possible without their tireless efforts, combined with the support of CEPI, additional funding assistance from the Queensland State Government, the Federal Government and philanthropic partners, and our research partners,” Professor Høj said.

“As global citizens in the race against this threat, we all recognise there is still much to be done and it will be a collective effort across borders until the risk is eradicated.”