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How far away is a COVID-19 vaccine? Leading infectious diseases researcher weighs in

The race is on to find a vaccine for coronavirus, with clinical trials under way across the world, and a leading infectious diseases researcher says it’s possible we could have one by the end of the year.

Director of the Doherty Institute, Professor Sharon Lewin, told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell it’s plausible we could have a vaccine by the end of 2020.

“There has been really rapid movement on that front. There are now seven vaccine studies in clinical trials in people, first phase, which is looking at safety, around the world,” she said.

“From the very beginning we’ve put a time frame of 12 to 18 months.

“The end of the year, that may well be feasible.”

Three of the trials currently being conducted are underway in China, while four are elsewhere.

“One of the most promising is this vaccine study being done out of the UK, developed in Oxford and tested in six monkeys in the US,” Professor Lewin said.

In Australia, a major drug trial at more than 70 hospitals began last week.

The trial, the AustralaSian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) is testing whether two drugs: HIV drug, Kaletra, and arthritis and anti-malarial treatment, hydroxychloroquine, are effective in reducing the severity of coronavirus.

Clive Palmer controversially bought 33 million doses of hydroxychloroquine anti-malarial this week, but Professor Lewin, said “way too early” to suggest the drug is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

“At the moment it’s an experimental drug,” she said.

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Coronavirus patients at 70 Australian hospitals to take part in major COVID-19 drug trial