Australia Editor's Picks Top Stories Trending Now

Australia cancels 51 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine as trial stumbles

CANBERRA Australia: Australia cancelled an order for 51 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by CSL Ltd and the University of Queensland after trials ran into difficulties.

The government said on Friday it’s replacing most of the CSL doses with more purchases of other planned vaccines. Australia has ordered an extra 20 million shots being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc, and 11 million more Novavax Inc doses, the government said.

The CSL failure shows that despite the groundbreaking progress by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. in producing an inoculation, the path to a successful vaccine remains difficult. Australia’s government had already sought to spread that risk by ordering shots from Pfizer and BioNTech SE, Novavax and AstraZeneca.

Even without CSL’s doses, more than 140 million units of vaccines will be available in Australia, Health Minister Greg Hunt said. The country is home to about 26 million people. “This is one of the highest ratios of vaccine purchases and availability to the population in the world,” Hunt said. “So we’re in a strong position.”

CSL said it would not progress to phase 2/3 clinical trials. It said a small component of the vaccine comes from the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, and while that posed no risk of infection, some trial participants had false-positive tests for HIV.

The potential for this to happen was anticipated before the trial, and participants had been pre-warned, CSL said.

Related story: Poor countries left behind as rich nations hoard Covid-19 vaccine

“It is generally agreed that significant changes would need to be made to well-established HIV testing procedures in the health-care setting to accommodate rollout of this vaccine,” the company said.

CSL shares fell 3.2% to Australian $291.78 at 12:37 pm in Sydney. The stock is up almost 6% this year.

Vaccines are proving key to reopening the world economy nine months into the worst pandemic in a generation. The UK and US have approved the Pfizer shot, and other countries are scrambling to secure deals and authorise vaccines for public use.

For Australia, yet to sign off on any shot, a widely distributed inoculation would allow the country to ease some of the most restrictive border curbs in the world.

Professor Paul Young from the University of Queensland said that although it was possible to re-engineer the vaccine, the team didn’t have the luxury of time. “Doing so would set back development by another 12 or so months, and while this is a tough decision to take, the urgent need for a vaccine has to be everyone’s priority.”

Dear TNT Reader,

At The News Tribe, our mission is to bring you free, independent, and unbiased news and content that keeps you informed and empowered. We are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism, as we understand that we are a platform for truth.

Apart from independent global news coverage, we also commit our unique focus on the Muslim world. In an age marked by the troubling rise of Islamophobia and widespread misrepresentation of Muslims in Western media, we strive to provide accurate and fair coverage.

But to continue doing so, we need your support. Even a small donation of 1$ can make a big difference. Your contribution will help us maintain the quality of our news and counteract the negative narratives that are so prevalent.

Please consider donating today to ensure we can keep delivering the news that matters. Together, we can make a positive impact on the world, and work towards a more inclusive, informed global society.

Monthly Subscription Annual Subscription

Visa Card MasterCard American Express Card

We want to hear your Travel Stories.

Do you have a memorable, unbelievable, or favorite travel experience? Share your story with us.