Perspectives / Dr Doug Quarry: The COVID vaccines are coming faster than you may realise

DR DOUG QUARRY, MBBS, MSc (Community Health)

I describe myself as a “COVID vaccine bull.”

Here’s why….

The three leading coronavirus vaccines, Oxford / AstraZeneca, Moderna, and CanSino, are currently undergoing Phase 3 trials, one in the US, one in Brazil, and one in Brazil and South Africa.

What are Phase 3 trials?

Phase 3 trials involve around 30,000 people, with half being given the vaccine and half being given an injection of saline only.

The study then looks at the difference of infection rates of the two groups to see if the vaccination has prevented COVID infection.

When will we get some results?

We expect to have the first indications whether any of these vaccines can prevent COVID infection over the next six weeks. Generally, the scientific community, is quite up-beat that these vaccines will work.

Where will Australia get its vaccines from?

Where will Australia get its vaccine from given that the vaccines we are developing in Brisbane and Adelaide are only in an early phase? The Prime Minister has confirmed at a press conference that the Government is discussing “international licensing arrangements for COVID-19 vaccines” with the UK Government. This should allow Australia to “access and supply” vaccines developed in the UK. (The UK Government has pre-purchased 100 million doses of the Oxford / AstraZenica vaccine.)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison describes the results so far from the Oxford vaccine as “very exciting”.

The Prime Minister also confirmed he’d had discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron. France’s Sanofi — a dedicated vaccine company — has two candidates in development.

Who will be vaccinated first?

Of course, initially, there will not be enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone.

So, priority will be given to the high-risk groups, with the rest of the population being vaccinated though 2021 as more vaccine becomes available.

*Keep your eye on the vaccine story. 2021 will not be a repeat of 2020. Phew!*


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