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New Zealand Covid-19 vaccine works, alliance says


Vaccine alliance is seeking private support to progress beyond phase one trials

A Covid-19 vaccine developed in New Zealand has 100 per cent effectiveness in mice and the potential to cause fewer side effects and prevent the virus from replicating, a paper has said.

But the vaccine’s developers have been forced to turn to philanthropic support to progress their research.

A preprint paper in the journal iScience says the Kiwi Vax is a promising candidate for booster shots. Phase one trials have been made possible by financial support from an anonymous philanthropist, but the future of the vaccine beyond that is uncertain.

The Kiwi Vax was developed over a two-year period by members of the Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand Ohu Kaupare Huaketo, including the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago. It has been tested at the University of Melbourne and the National Institutes of Health in the US and it has been found to be relatively stable and long-lasting, even without refrigeration, compared with some other vaccines.

Laying the foundations

However, alliance executive director Kjesten Wiig said that private support was needed to progress the work. “We’d need a significant industry, philanthropic or government partner to progress to later-stage clinical trials and regulatory approval,” Wiig said.

“But wherever this lands, what we’ve set out to achieve here has been achieved. We’ve proven that New Zealand has the expertise and skills to develop a novel and effective vaccine against a pandemic virus and have built the capability, knowledge and connections to lay the foundations for New Zealand’s response to future pandemics.”

She told Research Professional News that phase one trials were expected to begin in September, with the support of philanthropists who were committed to helping the world develop more vaccines.

“If we go to phase two and three, that’s a different ball game…Those trials are even more expensive.”

The vaccine alliance is also contributing to plans to establish mRNA vaccine production in New Zealand.