Malaghan: COVID-19 vaccine update
The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and partners at the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington are helping lead efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for New Zealand as part of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo.
Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo (VAANZ) brings together a multidisciplinary team of local and international collaborators with proven capability in vaccine research, development, and scale-up manufacturing.
As part of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, VAANZ has been tasked with establishing a national COVID-19 vaccine evaluation and development platform to screen, trial, and accelerate the development of potential domestic and international COVID-19 vaccines.
This includes building global research collaborations to accelerate and secure New Zealand’s access to potential international vaccines and progress the development of local vaccine candidates. VAANZ will also build New Zealand’s capability in vaccine development and production to ensure New Zealand is prepared for future pandemics.
To that end, the Malaghan Institute has recently welcomed the arrival of Dr Frances Priddy, former Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Clinical Development at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in New York.
Dr Priddy has spent much of her career researching and developing clinical vaccines for infectious diseases. COVID-19 is her most recent challenge – and her expertise and experience will be vital in her new role as Clinical Director of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo (VAANZ).
“Usually it takes around five years to take something from the lab and get it into the clinic. We, like everyone else in the world, are trying to compress this timeline as much as possible, ideally within two years. I would like to use my experience to help VAANZ accelerate promising vaccine candidates through the clinical process as quickly as possible.
“The other important goal for me is to make sure that the many resources here in New Zealand attract global interest and are used to evaluate international vaccine candidates. Already there are many candidates being trialled around the world, and there’s no reason why New Zealand can’t be involved in helping evaluate them. While we can’t do efficacy studies – because thankfully New Zealand doesn’t have enough COVID-19 cases – there’s much we can be doing in terms of collecting safety and immunogenicity data, addressing vaccine hesitancy issues, and building knowledge around the vaccines under development.
“I think trialling international candidates in New Zealand will go a long way to improving knowledge and acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines here and may enhance New Zealand’s ability to have equitable access once these candidates have been proven safe and effective to use in humans.”
Malaghan Institute Director Professor Graham Le Gros has been constantly in the news these last few months, keeping the public updated on COVID-19 vaccine developments. His recent appearances on Radio New Zealand Morning Report and TVNZ Breakfast are available on the IRANZ multimedia page.
Date posted: 2 December 2020