Australia halts COVID vaccine production on HIV false positives

Australia halts COVID vaccine production on HIV false positives

University of Queensland and CSL vaccine no longer part of government plan

SYDNEY (Reuters) — Australia abruptly halted the production of a home-made vaccine against COVID-19 after trials showed it could interfere with HIV diagnosis, the developers said, with the government instead securing additional doses of rival vaccines.

The inoculation being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and vaccine maker CSL, one of four candidates contracted by the Australian government, was halted after “certain HIV diagnostic assays” returned false positives.

While there were no serious adverse effects seen in the Phase 1 trial of 216 participants, data showed antibodies that had developed interfered with HIV diagnosis and led to false positives on some HIV tests, CSL said.

Given the results, CSL said it had come to a decision with the Australian government to stop Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials of the vaccine.

“This outcome highlights the risk of failure associated with early vaccine development, and the rigorous assessment involved in making decisions as to what discoveries advance,” said Andrew Nash, CSL’s chief scientific officer.