Malaghan in the News: COVID-19 coverage

24 July 2020, COVID-19

Malaghan Institute scientists speak to New Zealand media about the impact and implications of COVID-19 on human health and global efforts to combat it.

NZ Geographic: Race for a vaccine

Rebekah White | Aug 2020

On April 2, James Dickson, a specialist in growing invisible proteins, received an envelope in the mail. Inside were two plastic vials, both of them smaller than his little finger. They were filled with a colourless liquid. At last, he had everything he needed to get started.

Dickson was alone in a squat Brutalist building at the University of Auckland, its long row of windows looking out among the branches of plane trees. The only sounds within were the hum of fridges and incubators.

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Newsroom: Be prepared for Covid-19 vaccine side effects

Farah Hancock | 24 July 2020

Promising results from three different Covid-19 vaccines have raised hopes protection against the virus is in sight. However, this ‘warp speed’ effort may backfire if the public aren’t made aware of the likelihood of minor side-effects.

Vaccines under development by Oxford University, CanSino Biologics and Moderna have made headlines due to promising early trial results but all results point to a number of side effects.

None of these vaccines are approved for widespread use yet, with more trials needed, but they all have created an immune response to the virus. It’s not yet known if this response is enough to protect people against Covid-19 and if it does, how long the protection will last. 

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NZ Herald: Coronavirus: Trial of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows promise by producing immune response

Jamie Morton | 22 July 2020

Kiwi scientists are buoyed at the latest breakthroughs in the global race for a Covid-19 vaccine, with hopes that crucial Phase III trial results could be out by the year's end.

This morning, researchers from Oxford University's Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group reported an experimental vaccine, so far tested on 1077 healthy adults, triggered a protective immune response among those aged 18 to 55.

Critically, the researchers found their vaccine was "safe and tolerated".

The vaccine, labelled ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination, and an antibody response within 28 days.

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Newshub: Coronavirus: Trial of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows promise by producing immune response

Tom McRae | 21 July 2020

An experimental vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University against the new coronavirus produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday,  preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of the year.

The vaccine, called AZD1222, has been described by the World Health Organization's chief scientist as the leading candidate in a global race to halt a pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people.

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Newshub: Race for a COVID-19 vaccine: Scientist says New Zealand could be first to make it

Mark Qunilavin | 16 July 2020

One of the country's top scientists believes New Zealand can be the first nation in the world to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

The international search for a vaccine is continuing with two companies - in China and Australia - at the all-important stage three of the four-stage testing process.

Back home, the New Zealand Government has pledged $37 million to help secure a COVID-19 vaccine - $10m of which is being used to support domestic research.

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Stuff: The eight Covid-19 vaccine strategies Pharmac is interested in

Bridie Witton | 14 July 2020

There are eight Covid-19 vaccines Pharmac is looking into, as the global search for a cure continues.

The Government drug buying agency is asking industry for the details around the research, manufacture and supply of the vaccines.

It will also find out what suppliers are willing to sell its vaccine to New Zealand.

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RNZ: Worth a shot? The economics of the race for a vaccine

Peter Griffin | 26 June 2020

All over the world, scientists, pharmaceutical executives and government officials are working feverishly with one goal in mind - finding an effective vaccine for Covid-19 and then making billions of doses of it.

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1 News: World could know within weeks if a coronavirus vaccine is imminent as Australian clinical trials come to an end

22 June 2020

The world could know within weeks if a coronavirus vaccine is imminent.

Chief Medical Officer of Australia Brendan Murphy says the first results from the clinical trials of several different candidates should be known by late July.

"That would be a good time for us to tell whether any of the candidate molecules are looking promising," he told reporters in Canberra today.

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Sunday (TVNZ): Kiwi scientists join worldwide hunt for Covid-19 vaccine

7 June 2020

Their unique formula aims to provide long-term protection by building tiny synthetic spikes to stimulate the immune system.

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RNZ: Covid-19 research: 'I'm confident a vaccine will be found'

27 May 2020

Scientists in New Zealand are already making good progress in Covid-19 vaccine research, University of Otago associate professor James Ussher says.

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Newstalk ZB: Call for NZ clinical trials after Govt's $37m vaccine spend

27 May 2020

Scientists have hailed a just-announced $37m Government spend toward a Covid-19 vaccine – and now a major clinical research organisation has called for trials to be carried out here.

This afternoon, ministers revealed the fund would be sending $10m toward local vaccine research and $5m for exploring manufacturing a vaccine here.

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TVNZ: Expert has tough prediction on time frame for Covid-19 vaccine and end to travel restrictions

26 May 2020

The Government today announced it'll spend $37 million as part of a global effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

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Newshub: Government pledges $37m to help secure COVID-19 vaccine, joining global effort 'well underway'

Zane Small | 26 May 2020

The Government is pledging $37 million to secure a COVID-19 vaccine "at the earliest possible time" and ensure New Zealand is kept in the loop on international research efforts. 

Health Minister David Clark said the development of a vaccine is a "crucial tool in the control of COVID-19 worldwide" and that a "global effort is well underway" to develop and test vaccine candidates.

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Seven Sharp: What can we expect as New Zealand joins global quest to develop a Covid-19 vaccine?

26 May 2020

The Government will spend $37 million to help a global effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. There's a possibility that if successful, the vaccine could be made here. But can we do it? How long will it take for a vaccine to become available?

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Otago Daily Times: Vaccine 2 years away, but Kiwis can do it: research head

26 May 2020

A Covid-19 vaccine is being described as the Everest of medicine, and the race is on to beat corporate interests to the top of the mountain, Professor Graham Le Gros from the Malaghan Institute says.

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NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus: Call for NZ clinical trials after Govt's $37m vaccine spend

Jamie Morton | 26 May 2020

Scientists have hailed a just-announced $37m Government spend toward a Covid-19 vaccine – and now a major clinical research organisation has called for trials to be carried out here.

This afternoon, ministers revealed the fund would be sending $10m toward local vaccine research and $5m for exploring manufacturing a vaccine here.

Read the full article

One News: Kiwi scientist says New Zealand could be one of the first to find Covid-19 vaccine

Imogen Wells | 26 May 2020

One of the country’s top scientists believes it’s possible New Zealand could be one of the first in the world to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

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RNZ: Covid-19 vaccine two years away, and could be NZ-made - research leader

26 May 2020

A Covid-19 vaccine is being described as the Everest of medicine, and the race is on to beat corporate interests to the top of the mountain, Professor Graham Le Gros from Malaghan Institute says.

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RNZ: NZ Covid-19 vaccine strategy: Government provides $37m for development, distribution

26 May 2020

A $37 million Covid-19 vaccine strategy announced by the government aims to help national and global efforts to create and distribute a vaccine to fight the coronavirus.

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Stuff: Coronavirus: Covid-19 vaccine 'long way' off, NZ could be bottom of list

Bridie Witton | 25 May 2020

New Zealanders are being warned they could be among the last citizens in the world to get the coronavirus vaccine, as scientists scramble to develop a homegrown candidate.

Experts have told Stuff that under most scenarios it will be a "long way" before a vaccine makes it to New Zealand shores, with growing nationalism overseas fuelling a reluctance among leaders to share vaccines beyond their borders.

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Stuff: Coronavirus: $100k for Wellington biotech company to secure Covid-19 vaccine supply

Bridie Witton | 13 May 2020

A Wellington-based biotech company has been awarded $100,000 to start looking at the security of supply of a coronavirus vaccine in New Zealand.

More than 100 vaccines candidates are being developed overseas, but — once developed — experts say it will take several years to manufacture enough doses to meet global demand.

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NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus: How vaccine could be manufactured in NZ

Jamie Morton | 13 May 2020

Kiwi scientists have joined forces in an unprecedented effort to ensure this country gets fast access to a potential vaccine to combat Covid-19.

If the hunt for a cure is successful, a vaccine could even be manufactured in New Zealand, saving Kiwis from waiting longer due to worldwide demand.

It is likely the vaccine wouldn't be made from scratch by our own scientists, but instead created from an effective candidate developed overseas.

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Stuff: Government should invest in Kiwi vaccine-manufacturers, and create medicines bubble with Australia

Rob Stock | 13 May 2020

Despite decades of relying on overseas makers of vaccines and medicines New Zealand still possess companies with the capability of manufacturing them.

Government should partner with those companies - including Timuru-based South Pacific Sera and Auckland-based BioCell - to turn that capability into the capacity to mass-produce Covid-19 vaccine should one be discovered, according to Professor Graham Le Gros from the Malaghan Institute.

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Newsroom: COVID-19: Are we ready for Level 2?

Farah Hancock | 11 May 2020

With an announcement regarding a potential loosening of strict physical distancing and travel rules due today, how prepared are we to lower our defences against Covid-19?

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NZ Herald: Covid-19 coronavirus: Scientists welcome early funding for homegrown vaccine

Jamie Morton | 7 May 2020

Scientists have welcomed a cash boost to start work on a home-grown Covid-19 vaccine while the Government prepares a national strategy.

Wellington-based biotech company Avalia Immunotherapies has received $100,000 in bridging funding for a vaccine project bringing together some of the country's top experts.

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Stuff: Coronavirus: Covid-19 vaccine our 'only clear exit strategy', so where is it?

Hannah Martin | 6 May 2020

As countries languish in lockdown and unemployment rates rise, our fates lay in the hands of white coat-clad scientists searching for a vaccine to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.

The race is on — there are more than 100 vaccine candidates being developed, eight of which are already being studied in humans and another six approved to start trials. Most will not make it to market: if we're lucky, we may get a few.

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Newshub Nation: Race for a vaccine: Kiwi scientists plead for more funding

Conor Whitten | 2 May 2020

As Kiwis return to work by the thousands and new case numbers inch closer to zero ever so slowly, hope is growing that COVID-19 is almost contained.

Alert level 3 has brought small new freedoms, but before life can resume as normal scientists say one thing is essential - New Zealand will need a COVID-19 vaccine.

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The Project NZ: Should New Zealand get on to making our own vaccine?

1 May 2020

Kiwi scientists are keen to start developing a COVID-19 vaccine of our own, but is it too tall of an order?

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Otago Daily Times: Govt ‘moving’ on vaccine research: scientist

Mark Price | 1 May 2020

The Wellington scientist working on a Covid-19 vaccine believes Government health officials are finally getting on board.

Last week, the Otago Daily Times reported Malaghan Institute director Graham Le Gros had given his team the go-ahead to start work despite not having Government permission or funding.

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RNZ: COVID-19 vaccine strategy needed, & now!

Nine To Noon | 30 April 2020

Infectious disease experts say the government must develop a national vaccine strategy, and someone to lead it. It comes as fears mount that New Zealand could be at the back of the queue for a Covid-19 vaccine. It's estimated that at best, a vaccine is 12 to 18 months away, or longer, if not developed here. Add to that no human ever encountered it before December 2019, so no-one had any COVID-19 reference material, and we don't have vaccines against any coronavirus yet.

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Newsroom: Could a Covid-19 vaccine be our ultimate ‘buy local’ product?

Farah Hancock | 30 April 2020

How can enough Covid-19 vaccine be made quickly for 7.8 billion people and should New Zealand produce its own vaccine?

Finding a Covid-19 vaccine is only one part of the challenge facing the world. A potentially bigger challenge is making billions and billions of doses.

Most vaccine companies can produce millions of doses, or even hundreds of millions of doses a year. No company at present could pump out 7.8 billion doses in a hurry.

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Newshub: Patrick Gower: Fund Kiwi scientists to find vaccine for COVID-19

Patrick Gower | 29 April 2020

Did you know that some of New Zealand's best and brightest are currently ready to unlock the secrets of coronavirus?

They are good to go: they have the people, the ideas and the plan to potentially get the vaccine that would save lives, billions of dollars and save the Kiwi way of life.

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Mai FM: Graham Le Gros Interview

Mai Morning Crew | 28 April 2020

Professor Graham Le Gros spoke to the Mai Morning Crew on Mai FM about vaccines and COVID-19.

Listen to the full interview

Otago Daily Times: 'Perfect' Covid-19 response let down by lack of vaccine support - virologist

Vaughan Elder | 27 April 2020

An internationally renowned virologist says New Zealand’s "perfect" response to Covid-19 is let down by the Government’s lack of support for development of a vaccine.

Balclutha-born Dr Robert Webster, who is now based in Memphis, was full of praise for New Zealand’s overall response to Covid-19.

He went as far as saying New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 was “probably the best example" worldwide, but the one part of the response he questioned was the lack of support for vaccine development.

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Otago Daily Times: Vaccine work pushes on without Govt

Mark Price | 25 April 2020

New Zealand scientists have begun work on a Covid-19 vaccine despite the Government still not having decided if it will approve or fund the work.

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NZ Herald: Covid-19 Coronavirus: What's New Zealand's long-term plan for a Covid-19 vaccine?

Emma Russell | 24 April 2020

New Zealand could be years away from returning to normal unless the Government injects millions into launching a Covid-19 vaccine programme.

That is the warning from some of our country's top scientists, who have published an article in today's New Zealand Medical Journal.

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Seven Sharp: How close are we to stamping out Covid-19 - and is that even possible?

Tim Wilson | 20 April 2020

Seven Sharp asks Professor Graham Le Gros from the Malaghan Institute about how we might move forward from Level 4, and what's needed to stamp out COVID-19.

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RNZ: NZ cannot afford to wait for Covid-19 vaccine, scientists say

Katie Scotcher | 21 April 2020

Some of the country's top scientists are calling on the government to urgently invest millions into research and development of Covid-19 vaccines.

Estimates suggest it will take at least a year before international doses can be produced in large amounts and there are fears New Zealand could be near the back of the queue for supplies.

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TVNZ: Kiwi scientists teaming up with Australian peers in global race for Covid-19 vaccine

Cushla Norman | 17 April 2020

Scientists In New Zealand are collaborating with their Australian counterparts on a vaccine and say proper investment is badly needed.

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Newshub: Coronavirus: Scientists say New Zealand can't afford to wait for overseas vaccine

Dave Goosselink | 16 April 2020

Kiwi scientists say New Zealand can't afford to sit back and wait for a coronavirus vaccine to be developed overseas.

They want funding for local research to ensure we don't end up at the bottom of someone else's list when the breakthrough is made.

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Otago Daily Times: NZ scientists cannot ‘wait on the sidelines’

John Gibb | 16 April 2020

New Zealand must take a smart research approach if the country is to gain prompt supplies of any future coronavirus vaccine, Dunedin virologist Prof Miguel Quinones-Mateu warns.

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NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus: NZ should develop vaccine programme, say scientists

15 April 2020

New Zealand needs to act now to make sure it's not left behind when a successful coronavirus vaccine is created, top Kiwi scientists say.

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Newstalk ZB: NZ should develop coronavirus vaccine programme, say scientists

15 April 2020

New Zealand needs to act now to make sure it's not left behind when a successful coronavirus vaccine is created, top Kiwi scientists say.

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RNZ: Covid-19 vaccine development programme urged

15 April 2020

Scientists are urging the government to establish a national Covid-19 vaccine development programme to ensure any future vaccine roll-out isn't delayed.

Malaghan Institute director Graham Le Gros said it would likely take months for sufficient quantities of a vaccine developed overseas to be shipped here because of global demand.

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Stuff: Coronavirus: Relying on other countries for vaccine 'wrong approach', top scientists say

Katarina Williams | 14 April 2020

Three top scientists are calling for a national Covid-19 vaccine programme to ensure New Zealanders can access an effective vaccine as soon as it's developed.

Malaghan Institute director Professor Graham Le Gros, and University of Otago academics, professor Miguel Quinones-Mateu and associate professor James Ussher say relying on other countries to develop a vaccine is "fundamentally the wrong approach".

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TVNZ Seven Sharp: COVID-19 'immunity passports' could be a way back to normal, but there are shortfalls

Tim Wilson | 07 April 2020

A top New Zealand immunologist says issuing Covid-19 "immunity passports", like those proposed overseas, is an “intelligent” and “sensible” way back to normal if effective.

Professor Graham Le Gros, an immunologist at the Malaghan Institute, told TVNZ’s Seven Sharp issuing these passports is one way New Zealand can “think of ways to actually get ourselves out of this situation” as it can categorise who is able to start working again safely.

NZ Herald: The Big Read: Coronavirus v the incredible human immune system

Jamie Morton | 06 April 2020

The human immune system is one of the most sophisticated and remarkable features of the natural world. There's not a single pathogen it doesn't know how to deal with. But sometimes, it needs time to figure out how to meet alien threats it's never yet encountered. Like the deadly coronavirus behind Covid-19.

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NZ Herald: Coronavirus COVID-19: Top NZ scientist buoyed at vaccine race

Jamie Morton | 04 April 2020

A renowned New Zealand expert in viral immunology says he's encouraged at the rapid pace of global efforts to find a vaccine against Covid-19.

But Professor Graham Le Gros still expects the process will be a lengthy one, given the time and care needed to ensure a vaccine will be safe for an entire population to use.

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Stuff: Coronavirus: vaccine key to getting life 'back to normal' for New Zealand

Libby Wilson and Amber-Leigh Woolf | 03 April 2020

More than 40 potential coronavirus vaccines are in the works, but only a handful have backing from a global alliance set up to support pandemic response work.

New Zealand aims to eradicate the virus, stopping its community spread, and getting herd immunity through a vaccine would allow people to "go back to normal", a vaccinologist says.

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RNZ: When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in New Zealand?

Max Towle | 20 March 2020

Vaccines for Covid-19 could be at least 12 to 18 months away from wide distribution according to the world's leading scientists, but that doesn't mean they aren't moving at breakneck speed trying to develop them.

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