COVID-19

The Malaghan Institute and partners at the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington are leading efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for New Zealand as part of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo.

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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 has been tasked with establishing a national COVID-19 vaccine evaluation and development platform to screen, trial and accelerate the development of potential domestic and international COVID-19 vaccines.

This includes building global research collaborations to accelerate and secure New Zealand’s access to potential international vaccines and progress the development of local vaccine candidates. VAANZ will also build New Zealand’s capability in vaccine development and production to ensure New Zealand is prepared for future pandemics.

The VAANZ programme has been boosted by donations to the Malaghan Institute, including from the Hugh Green Foundation. As well as supporting the platform, this is accelerating VAANZ’s research and development of several local vaccine candidates. These include a recombinant spike protein vaccine being developed out of Dr Davide Comoletti’s lab at Victoria University of Wellington, an inactivated virus vaccine in progress in Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu’s lab at the University of Otago and a pan-coronavirus vaccine being explored by Avalia Immunotherapies with international collaborators.

The programme builds on work already underway following an initial $100,000 investment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to collaborator Avalia Immunotherapies in April, which allowed local vaccine development to progress.

From left: Malaghan Institute Director Prof Graham Le Gros, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand and University of Otago Assoc Prof James Ussher. © Victoria University of Wellington