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Australia calls off trial of much-anticipated COVID vaccine when test subjects return 'false positive' HIV results

4 months 3 days 11 hours ago Friday, December 11 2020 Dec 11, 2020 December 11, 2020 5:22 AM December 11, 2020 in News
Source: CNN
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison addresses reporters on Dec. 11, 2020 after the country's health officials swiftly ended trials of a COVID-19 vaccine they'd been testing when trial participants returned false positive results for HIV.

Health officials in Australia quickly called off trials of a COVID-19 vaccine they'd been testing when trial participants returned false positive results for HIV.

According to CNN, the University of Queensland and Australian biotech company CSL were conducting Phase 1 trials for the drug, which was anticipated to be available for use by mid-2021 when the false positive results for HIV made an appearance among trial participants.

CSL issued a statement claiming no serious adverse effects had been reported in the 216 trial participants, and the vaccine was shown to have a "strong safety profile." But CSL also added that trial data implied the vaccine produced antibodies that interfered with HIV diagnosis, resulting in false positives on some HIV tests.

The biotech company concluded that should the vaccine be approved and used nationally, it could wreck havoc to the country's public health with a wave of false positive HIV tests in the community.

"Follow up tests confirmed that there is no HIV virus present, just a false positive on certain HIV tests. There is no possibility the vaccine causes infection," CSL added in its statement.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Friday morning that the vaccine "will no longer feature as part of the country's vaccine plan." Australia had pre-emptively ordered 51 million doses of the CSL vaccine in October.

CNN reports Morrison as saying Australia had backed four vaccines that showed promise but "at no stage ... believed that all four of those vaccines would likely get through that process."

"So that's why we spread our risk. That's why we backed important projects. And that's why we pre-prepared to ensure that we could deal with any issues along the way," he said.

In addition to the University of Queensland vaccine, Australia had previously ordered a combined 73.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca and the Novavax vaccines.

According to Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt, the country now intends to order an extra 20 million units from AstraZeneca and 11 million from Novovax.

A vaccine has to pass Australia's three stages of trials before it can be considered for approval for public use and the country has yet to grant approval to a coronavirus vaccine candidate, CNN reports.

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