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. 

Today marks the first round of the human trials for the University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Monday 13 July, volunteers will receive the first doses of UQ’s innovative “molecular clamp” candidate vaccine in what is a significant step forward in its development. 

More than 130 vaccines are in the works around the world, but UQ’s work is believed to have shown great success in the preclinical stage of development. 

“The animal trials held in the Netherlands would have ticked all the boxes. There is no way the research team would be able to progress from animals to humans without a complete guarantee of safety, and they would likely have confidence in its effectiveness,” Professor Robert Booy, Head of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance said. 

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.”