For the last five months we’ve been keeping up with our partners from the University of Queensland as their world-class team of researchers develop a COVID-19 vaccine.  

During this time exciting progress has been made. Not only were we honoured to donate $1 million to help accelerate UQ’s research, but we’ve since seen their innovative “molecular clamp” candidate vaccine begin human trials. 

Today we’re thrilled to receive another update. The team have released the results from their pre-clinical trials which show the vaccine they’ve developed triggers the immune system to protect against the disease. The results are from trials conducted on hamsters earlier in the testing process and are incredibly promising for the future of the vaccine’s development. 

After a single dose, around half of the animals had no virus at all detected in the lungs and the other half had reduced levels with a marked reduction in severity. 

Doctor Keith Chappell from the UQ School of Chemistry said it was just one step in the process, but the results were better than expected. 

The team presented this crucial new data to the International Society of Vaccines overnight which will help scientists around the world compare the effectiveness of different vaccines. UQ’s research is considered by most experts to be the most promising of the handful of Australian vaccines under development.

As for the human trials, UQ has recruited 120 people, with the last 20 people given a dose this week and Dr Chappel said there have been absolutely no safety concerns. 

We’re incredibly proud of this Australian team, comprised of some of the top researchers in the world. While it’s still early days, the results are encouraging and already the team is showing that scale-up and production will be possible. 

The $1 million donation made in April was funded from Golden Casket unclaimed prize money.