Tuberculosis vaccine trial offers hope in COVID-19 war

A landmark coronavirus vaccine trial has been launched in South Australia involving the state's health workers, as one new coronavirus case was recorded, bringing the state's total to 429 patients.

SA's chief public health officer Dr Nicola Spurrier told a press conference this afternoon that the latest case was a person in their 20s.

She said seven out of the 15 patients currently in hospital were in ICU. Four were in a critical condition, with a total of 225 people now recovered.

 

Dr Spurrier said three of the hospitalised cases, including one of the people in intensive care, were airport workers and that the Adelaide Airport cluster remained an area of high concern for SA Health.

She also thanked South Australians for sticking to social distancing.

"Really this (only one new case) is good news," Dr Spurrier said.

The State Government has injected $200,000 to the joint South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Murdoch Children's Research Institute trial.

The clinical trial, which has the backing of World Health Organisation Director-General, microbiologist, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, involves more than 500 hospital staff.

Researchers will investigate whether an established tuberculosis vaccine could provide an immune system boost to reduce the prevalence, or severity, of COVID-19 symptoms.

 

The BCG vaccine in Adelaide. Picture: AAP Image/Morgan Sette
The BCG vaccine in Adelaide. Picture: AAP Image/Morgan Sette

Trial participants, who will be randomly allocated to either receive the vaccine or be in a control group, will be monitored for symptoms and receive testing where indicated.

SA Health said the trial would help in its fight against coronavirus and provide "invaluable evidence" to fight future novel viral outbreaks.

"The nature of their work means healthcare workers are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, so it is important that they are first to be able to access this potentially protective intervention," said Health Minister Stephen Wade.

"We have some of the best scientists in the world. Through their hard work and by community-wide action to slow the spread of infection, South Australians are doing more than just enduring this nasty disease.

"We are fighting back and we will defeat it together."

 

SAHMRI boss Professor Steve Wesselingh. Picture: Dean Martin
SAHMRI boss Professor Steve Wesselingh. Picture: Dean Martin

 

SAHMRI's executive director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, said scientists had been researching a Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine for several years.

Medical experts say that although originally developed against tuberculosis, BCG also boosts humans' "frontline" immunity, training it to respond to germs with greater intensity.

"BCG was designed to protect against tuberculosis and is currently a common treatment for bladder cancer patients but has also been shown to boost immunity against other infections," he said.

"Trial participants, who will be randomly allocated to either receive the vaccine or be in a control group, will be monitored for symptoms and receive testing where indicated.

"The trial will provide key evidence that could prove invaluable in both the current fight against COVID-19 and future novel viral outbreaks."

For more information on the trial, click here

 

Adelaide’s SAHMRI is conducting the trial with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Picture: Dean Martin
Adelaide’s SAHMRI is conducting the trial with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Picture: Dean Martin

 

 

Seven new cases on Friday

On Friday, South Australia recorded seven new coronavirus cases as newly designed official heat maps showed the concentration of patients.

Friday's result was a jump from the one COVID-19 case recorded on Thursday.

SA Health yesterday revealed more than 40 per cent of the state's cases have since recovered from the disease.

It capped a week in which three patients died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital's intensive care unit.

Francesco "Frank" Ferraro, 75, of Campbelltown became the state's first COVID-19 victim on Monday night, an Adelaide-based Ruby Princess passenger, 62, died on Wednesday morning while Malcolm Todd, 76, of Barmera, lost his battle a few hours later.

His case is linked to the Barossa Valley cluster, which has been traced to US and Swiss tour groups.

 

The state's deputy chief public health officer, Dr Mike Cusack, revealed another Barossa Valley cluster case yesterday, taking the total to 39.

Of those, 29 are linked to the Americans and 10 to the Swiss tourist group.

While 179 people have recovered, another 15 patients are being treated in the RAH, with six - aged 52 to 77 - in intensive care. Of those, four patients were fighting for life in critical condition last night.

SA Health published new heat maps yesterday, showing "active" cases in Charles Sturt Prospect, Tea Tree Gully and Marion councils.

The former Wakefield Hospital's rebuild into a dedicated response facility has been completed while the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme offices have been shut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as One new coronavirus case as SA vaccine trial launched

Clinical Research Nurse Mary Walker prepares to administer the vaccine to lab manager Georgina Eden. Picture: AAP Image/ Morgan Sette
Clinical Research Nurse Mary Walker prepares to administer the vaccine to lab manager Georgina Eden. Picture: AAP Image/ Morgan Sette