We’re showcasing our COVID-19 superstars. Image credit: Nick Bolton
On the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus an international public health emergency, we started key research on the global response. We’ve been involved in vaccine development, testing through pre-clinical trials, and providing proactive and focussed support. Three of our teams working on COVID-19 research won a 2020 CSIRO Award.
We’ve already shared our top six COVID-19 research highlights of 2020. So now let’s meet three of our COVID-19 superstar teams!
Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) COVID-19 team
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) asked us to help. They wanted us to characterise the virus and begin pre-clinical trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines at our Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP). The ACDP is our high-containment biosecurity facility in Geelong, Victoria.
We had already started preparing for the possibility of a pandemic. So, when COVID-19 emerged, we had the right people, equipment and systems in place to hit the ground running.
CEPI and the WHO selected two vaccine candidates for our ACDP COVID-19 team to start pre-clinical testing. The candidates came from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and Inovio Pharmaceuticals in the United States. In less than five months, our team developed the first biological model. And we also carried out the world’s first multi-vaccine efficacy studies.
It was a big task, but we had a big team! More than 90 project team members from our ACDP and Health and Biosecurity teams made up the ACDP COVID-19 team. The work of this team enabled the rapid progression of two leading vaccine candidates through clinical trials. This team has played a key role in the rapid global response to COVID-19.
Our ACDP COVID-19 team won the Chairman’s Medal for Science and Engineering Excellence at the CSIRO Awards 2020. COVID-19 superstars!
COVID-19 vaccine development team
Our COVID-19 vaccine development team rapidly pivoted to help in the global pursuit of vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers from across ACDP, Health and Biosecurity, and Manufacturing made up our COVID-19 vaccine development team.
Firstly, through engagement with CEPI, the ACDP and Health and Biosecurity teams worked closely to establish a biological model. Our team also grew sufficient stock of the virus to help start pre-clinical trials on two vaccine candidates. This collaboration helped fast track the research in three months compared to what normally takes years.
Secondly, the biologics production and purification teams from Manufacturing worked with The University of Queensland (UQ) and commercial manufacturers CSL to scale-up and produce their vaccine candidate. This collaborative process bought together experts in project management, protein production, quality management and protein characterisation. Again, this partnership within the organisation fast-tracked an outcome that would usually take years.
The COVID-19 vaccine development team was one of the winners of the Collaboration Medal at the CSIRO Awards 2020. COVID-19 superstars!
Flattening the Response Curve team
Our work to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic has involved a lot of collaboration within Australia and overseas partners. But we also collaborated within the organisation to support our research teams. Our community wanted current, accurate and useful information they could trust. Business, industry and government wanted to work with us on tackling the pandemic.
Several of our teams led by Corporate Affairs, Business Development and Global made up the Flattening the Response Curve team. The team’s goal was to deliver evidence-based research and timely information to meet the needs of the Australian community. This was a critical component of our scientific response. The team also provided proactive support to help our research teams partner with industry, government and others to deliver solutions.
From January to October, our involvement in the pandemic response achieved a media reach of about 440 million with more than 14,000 stories. To date, we’ve answered more than 1300 enquires relating to our COVID-19 work.
The Flattening the Response Curve team won the Medal for Support Excellence at the CSIRO Awards 2020. COVID-19 superstars!
While you’re here, take a look at the rest of our COVID-19 research involvement.