June 5, 2020 / 3:03 AM / a month ago

Australia's CSL says to help fund, make vaccine candidate if it proves successful

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s biggest biotech firm CSL Ltd said it would help fund the development of a University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine candidate and if it was successful, could make up to one hundred million doses towards the end of next year.

Early pre-clinical results for the vaccine candidate have shown it produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus, it said.

“Should clinical trials be successful, a vaccine could be available for distribution in 2021,” it said in a statement with the university and global health emergency group, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is also providing funding.

The University of Queensland said in April it was particularly pleased that the strength of the antibody response was better than those observed in samples from COVID-19 recovered patients.

Initial large-scale production of the vaccine would start in CSL’s biotech manufacturing facilities in Melbourne. CSL would also subcontract other global drug manufacturers to increase the number of doses and broaden its distribution.

Pharmaceutical companies and researchers around the world are racing to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

About 6.5 million people have contracted the flu-like illness since it was first reported in China late last year and more than 380,000 have died.

Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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