COVID-19 vaccine agreement

UQ's team of vaccine researchers stand together in laboratory working on finding a COVID-19 vaccine

UQ and CEPI partner with CSL to advance COVID-19 vaccine

Friday 5 June 2020

A landmark partnership will help to accelerate the future development, manufacture and distribution of a University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine.

Key points:

  • Global biotechnology company CSL will further develop, manufacture and distribute UQ’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
  • The UQ vaccine is expected to be available in 2021 should clinical trials be successful.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and UQ have entered into an agreement with Australian-based global biotech leader CSL Limited to support the clinical development and industrial-scale manufacturing to allow initial production in the order of a hundred million doses towards the end of the year.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the University was tremendously proud of the dedicated scientists who had made so many sacrifices since starting work on the project in January.

“Reaching this milestone would not have been possible without their tireless efforts, combined with the support of CEPI, additional funding assistance from the Queensland State Government, the Federal Government and philanthropic partners, and our research partners,” Professor Høj said.

“As global citizens in the race against this threat, we all recognise there is still much to be done and it will be a collective effort across borders until the risk is eradicated.”

Early preclinical trials showed that the UQ COVID-19 vaccine candidate produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus, with Phase 1 safety trials set to be conducted in Brisbane from early July.

Following an agreement with CEPI in early 2019 to pioneer and rehearse a ‘rapid response’ vaccine platform for viral outbreaks, UQ was tasked by CEPI to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UQ vaccine uses the ‘molecular clamp’ technology developed by Professor Paul Young, Associate Professor Keith Chappell and Dr Dan Watterson who have been driving the program jointly with Project Director Professor Trent Munro.

Should clinical trials be successful, a vaccine could be available in 2021, with the initial phase of large-scale production planned to take place at CSL’s biotech manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Australia.

female researcher uses pipettes in a Queensland laboratory where a COVID-19 vaccine is being developed
female researcher pipettes liquid in Queensland laboratory developing a COVID-19 vaccine
female researcher prepares laboratory equipment
hands holding up two beakers filled with yellow liquid

CEPI Chair Jane Halton said this was an important step forward in the battle against the virus.

“We know that the only way to beat this pandemic is through collaboration, across countries and also across sectors,” Ms Halton said.

“We also know that we cannot afford to wait until we know whether a vaccine works before ensuring we can produce it at scale.

“If this vaccine is successful, the partnership model will enable CEPI to provide a significant number of doses to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility for those who need them most, while allowing CSL to fulfil its biosecurity commitments.”

The agreement links the allocation of doses between CEPI and CSL to their relative contribution to overall project costs.

CSL will contribute to UQ’s promising vaccine with their proprietary adjuvant, MF59, made by Seqirus, along with providing expertise in process science and scale-up, managing advanced clinical trials and the large-scale manufacture of the recombinant vaccine.

CSL Chief Scientific Officer Professor Andrew Cuthbertson said the devastating toll COVID-19 had inflicted on the world was being countered by an extraordinary effort from scientists who have crossed borders and boundaries to collaborate, pool resources and make progress at a rate not seen before.

“Should trials be successful, this vaccine holds the potential to provide protection against this urgent public health emergency for Australians and those around the world who are vulnerable to this devastating virus,” Professor Cuthbertson said.

CSL would also work to subcontract other global manufacturers to boost the number of doses that can be produced and broaden the geographical distribution of vaccine production.

Read the joint media release with CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, CSL (ASX:CSL) and The University of Queensland.

Media: UQ Communications,, +61 429 056 139; CEPI,, +44 7387 055214; CSL, Christina Hickie,, +61 429 609 762.