The Malaghan Institute and partners at the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington are helping ensure ongoing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for New Zealand and our Pacific neighbours as part of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo.
Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo (VAANZ) brings together a multidisciplinary team of local and international collaborators with proven capability in vaccine research, development, and scale-up manufacturing.
As part of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, VAANZ is running a national COVID-19 vaccine evaluation and development platform and helping build New Zealand’s capability in vaccine development and production to ensure New Zealand is prepared for future pandemics.
The VAANZ platform is designed to support the development of potential domestic and international second generation COVID-19 vaccines, focusing on vaccines that provide longer immunity, are effective against emerging coronavirus strains and could be manufactured domestically in the future.
VAANZ’s independent vaccine advisory group has screened a number of external domestic and international second generation vaccine candidates and has selected a portfolio for further evaluation and development under the platform.
VAANZ is also undertaking a clinical study - ‘Ka Mātau, Ka Ora' (from knowledge comes wellbeing) - into the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, to better understand how New Zealanders’ immune systems respond to the vaccine, particularly in populations likely at higher risk from COVID-19, such as Māori, Pasifika and the elderly.
The VAANZ programme is undertaking research and development of two leading second generation COVID-19 vaccine candidates, with initial data showing promising results.
This includes a recombinant spike protein vaccine which has been designed primarily as a booster to raise waning antibody levels and retrain the immune system to recognise virus variants in vaccinated individuals and patients previously recovered from COVID-19.
VAANZ is also part of a Trans-Tasman collaboration with the University of Melbourne and local biotech Avalia Immunotherapies developing a pan-SARS-CoV2 virus-like particle based vaccine as a second generation vaccine and booster shot.
Independent vaccine advisory group
The VAANZ programme has been boosted by donations to the Malaghan Institute, including from the Hugh Green Foundation.