Why participants in the Queensland COVID vaccine trial returned positive HIV tests
Trials of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Queensland and CSL have been abandoned after several participants returned false positive readings on HIV tests.
The federal government has terminated a deal to buy more than 50 million doses of the potential vaccine.
An additional 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and another 11 million doses of the Novavax vaccine have been secured following the termination of the Queensland vaccine deal.
Inaugural Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, said the health of participants hasn’t been compromised, but public confidence has taken a hit.
“The problem with vaccines is it’s efficacy and safety, but it’s also public perception,” she told Tony Jones, filling in for Neil Mitchell.
Professor Bennett explained the false positive HIV readings come from small components of the virus, which are used in the UQ jab.
“What they found with their platform, which has this molecular clamp technology, was that they could use less of that virus, the COVID protein … and it means that they could actually scale up production of the vaccine very quickly,” she said.
“It’s in that molecular clamp that they were using components derived from the HIV virus.
“It just means they produce a partial antibody response to components of the HIV virus, which means in certain lab tests it comes back looking as if they’re positive.
“If that person was someone who they wanted to screen for HIV then the screening might not work.”
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