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17 February 2021 Expert commentary

Dr Rob Grenfell, CSIRO Director of Health and Biosecurity

"Scientists from around the world, including Australia, came together to solve one of the biggest challenges of our time, and for the first time in history we have not one but several safe and effective vaccines against a human coronavirus.    

"CSIRO is proud that Australia played a role in the validation and development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.  

"CSIRO scientists conducted pre-clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at our Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong, and CSIRO staff have been seconded to CSL to support manufacture of the vaccine in Melbourne.  

"We can feel confident knowing that the vaccines have been reviewed and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, one of the most stringent regulatory bodies in the world.

"Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing severe disease.

"While we will need to maintain public health measures for some time yet to limit the spread of the virus to people who haven’t been vaccinated, this vaccine is a fantastic step towards creating a nation resilient to COVID-19."

Prof Trevor Drew, Director of CSIRO's Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness

"CSIRO researchers at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness worked tirelessly in conducting the pre-clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in 2020, which supported its progression to human clinical trials.

"In addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca will give Australia another solid layer of protection against COVID-19.

"As people receive these vaccines in the next few months, we expect to start to see a reduction in the number of people becoming severely ill or dying from the virus.

"However, at a global level, we expect that the virus will continue to mutate, so vaccines will likely need tweaking in the future, to ensure they continue to provide protection.  

"But the good news is that the tireless work of scientists around the world over the past year to develop these vaccines has demonstrated we have technologies that can counter these mutations relatively easily."

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