CSIRO begins testing coronavirus vaccines

Australia's national science agency leads fight against coronavirus pandemic.

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has started the first stage of testing potential vaccines for coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The testing, expected to take three months, is under way at CSIRO’s high-containment biosecurity facility, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said reaching the testing phase was a significant achievement.

“Beginning vaccine candidate testing at CSIRO is a critical milestone in the fight against COVID-19, made possible by collaboration both within Australia and across the globe,” Dr Marshall said.

“CSIRO researchers are working around-the-clock to combat this disease which is affecting so many – whether it’s at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory or at our state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility – we will keep working until this viral enemy is defeated.”

CSIRO is testing the COVID-19 vaccine candidates for efficacy and evaluating the best way to give the vaccine for better protection, including an intra-muscular injection and innovative approaches like a nasal spray. 


CSIRO Health and Biosecurity Director Dr Rob Grenfell said one of the potential vaccines had been developed by the University of Queensland (UQ).

“We congratulate the University of Queensland (UQ) on the creation of the vaccine candidate for coronavirus, COVID-19, which was achieved in just three weeks. A huge early achievement in the rapid response to the coronavirus outbreak,” Dr Grenfell said.

“UQ’s vaccine candidate will now move to further testing at CSIRO’s state-of-the-art biologics production facility in Melbourne where our scientists have begun small-scale testing.”

AAHL Director Professor Trevor Drew said safety would not be compromised despite the urgent need for a vaccine.

“We have been studying SARS CoV-2 (coronavirus) since January and getting ready to test the first vaccine candidates as soon as they are available," Prof. Drew said.

"We are carefully balancing operating at speed with the critical need for safety in response to this global public health emergency.” 

CSIRO has a long history of developing and testing vaccines since the opening of the AAHL in 1985. 

It is the only high biocontainment facility in the southern hemisphere working with highly dangerous and exotic pathogens, including diseases that transfer from animals to people.