Australia has been one of the world's success stories in its fight against COVID-19, but the concern is growing over the delays with its vaccination rollout and the health issues associated with it. The government has invested more than $3.3b through their 4 vaccine programs, in order to strengthen Australia’s position to access safe and effective vaccines and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout:
The rollout began in February and so far 1.6 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide in a population of 25 million, which is well short of the 4 million dose goal originally set for March.
The delays have mainly been attributed to supply chain and delivery issues as well as health concerns about the AstraZeneca Vaccine, which forms the biggest part of the rollout.
Australia is currently in the initial phases of its staged rollout, with doses currently being offered to people over 70, those in aged care homes, frontline health workers, emergency services workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55, and people with underlying health conditions.
However, many in those high-risk groups in the aged care and disability sector say they still haven't received doses and there is growing concern about the underlying health issues associated with the vaccines.
Concerns about the current vaccines in the market
In January the TGA received reports of approximately 30 deaths in 40,000 elderly individuals in Norway who were dosed with the Pfizer vaccine.
Then in March, there were multiple reports linking the AstraZeneca vaccine and a syndrome called thrombosis in combination with thrombocytopenia, which is an extremely rare blood clotting syndrome that can cause long-term disability and even death.
Furthermore, a survey completed online by ~1090 people in April showed that just 37% of people are willing to get either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines; 27% are only willing to receive Pfizer, 14% said they do not want either vaccine, and 19% said they are unsure.
It is clear that there is a need for another treatment modality in order to supplement the vaccine rollout and help protect society by slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Aegros' Hyperimmune solution in the world of Vaccines for COVID-19
Aegros Limited, a Barclay Pearce Capital client, is an innovative Australian biotechnology company that has developed what is called a hyperimmune solution, that provides users with immediate protection against COVID-19. Their solution known as CovimmuneTM, transfers the antibodies from someone who has developed immunity to COVID-19 into a recipient who does not have that immunity. Hyperimmunes are said to provide ‘passive immunity’ as the immunity is passed onto the recipient rather than your own body developing the immunity.
In contrast, COVID-19 vaccines use an external source to stimulate our immune system to respond to an infection. It takes time for the body to achieve protection, with current COVID-19 vaccines taking anywhere from 14-28 days. These vaccines are designed to spur our immune system to make an immunological response and for this reason, are said to provide ‘active immunity’.
While an effective vaccine provides the best chance of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, the solution is unfortunately not so simple. No vaccine will be perfect, there will be side effects that are already prevalent with the recent reports of blood clotting. The current vaccines have significant limitations. Evolving mutations like those seen across the world will make some, if not all, current vaccines less effective and the vaccines’ specific transport and storage needs will cause logistical issues when being rolled out, similar to what we are seeing in Australia.
Furthermore, although many are prepared to take the current vaccines, as shown by the online survey, many others either cannot or will not, despite multiple government attempts at persuasion. Thus herd immunity via vaccination, which requires effective immunisation of at least two-thirds of the population, still remains a long way away.
On the other hand, Aegros’ hyperimmune solution provides immediate protection and can be easily updated to address mutations in the COVID-19 virus. For these reasons, some groups will need access to hyperimmunes including people with underlying medical conditions, front-line healthcare workers, pregnant women and underage children.
The use of hyperimmunes is required to provide parallel protection to vaccination as is the case with a number of diseases including tetanus, Hepatitis A, and rabies. Hyperimmunes and vaccines are two sides of the same coin. Both are needed in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and help the world recover from this pandemic.
To learn more about Aegros' hyperimmune solution, read our full article on Aegros' Hyperimmune solution in the world of Vaccines for COVID-19