Updated: Mar 26
With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, all everyone in the world wants to know is if there is any possibility of a cure or vaccine for this virus. Fortunately, Australia has been working hard in developing this and they are already planning to roll out nationwide.
Two rapid-diagnostic tests for COVID-19 have been cleared for use in Australia, promising results in less than an hour, as authorities fast-track the approval process.
It comes as pubs and clubs have closed in Australia, nearly $100 billion has been wiped off Australian shares, and the NRL becomes the latest sporting code to suspend its 2020 season.
Rapid-result tests approved for Australia
Australian regulators have approved another rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19, with this second one directly testing for viral genes, rather than immune antibodies. The new test has received expedited approval by the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia.
On the weekend, the company behind the test, Cepheid, announced it had received emergency approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. In a statement to the ABC, a TGA spokesman said: "The Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS CoV-2 test has been approved for supply in Australia as a point of care test (POCT) and for laboratory use."
However, the test is designed to be used in one of Cepheid's GeneXpert processing units.
The company said as long as one of its proprietary processing units was used, the technician did not need special training.
Earlier on Monday, it was revealed the TGA had approved another COVID-19 test which could produce results in just 15 minutes.
That test searches for antibodies rather than the virus itself, meaning it can miss positive cases, especially early in the course of the disease, when a patient's immune system has not yet created antibodies.
The 45-minute test by Cepheid identifies viral genes in a sample, just like the current gold standard PCR test. Faster testing could allow many more patients to get confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19, potentially helping to slow the spread of the virus causing the disease.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a $17 million package to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine developed in the state.
The number of Queensland COVID-19 cases has risen to 259 after 38 more people tested positive
The state government has announced $17 million in funding to fast-track the development of a vaccine
The money is expected to cut the time a vaccine would be available for use by about six months
She said the funding would support the University of Queensland (UQ) as the only Australian organisation and one of six worldwide to be tasked to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
$10 million from the Queensland Government
$3 million from the Federal Government
$3.5 million from the Paul Ramsay Foundation
Current status in Australia
As at 3:00 pm on 25 March 2020, there have been 2,423 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been 287 new cases since 3:00 pm yesterday.
Of the 2,423 confirmed cases in Australia, 8 have died from COVID-19. More than 169,000 tests have been conducted across Australia.
*Note that under National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System reporting requirements, cases are reported based on their Australian jurisdiction of residence rather than where they were detected. For example, a case reported previously in the NT in an NSW resident is counted in the national figures as an NSW case.
**Includes Diamond Princess repatriation cases: Qld (3), SA (1), Vic (4), WA (2, including 1 death)
The majority of Australian confirmed cases acquired overseas had a recent history of travel to Europe or the Americas.
This pie chart shows the proportion of Australian confirmed cases who acquired COVID-19 overseas by region. The largest proportion represents Europe. The second-largest proportion represents the Americas. Further significantly smaller proportions represent, in decreasing order:
New Zealand and the Pacific
North-East Asia (including China)
North Africa and the Middle East
Southern and Central Asia
More CORONAVIRUS NEWS
The drugs were very much effective
Scientists and researchers started to operate a secret trial on the group of patients who have all now completely recovered.
According to DailyMail, the Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women's and Hospital Clinical Research Director, Professor David Paterson of the University of Queensland Centre, have said that "These medications have the potential to be a real cure for all, unlike the random anecdotal experiences of some people."
In a secret trial that was held, they were all given HIV medication, Kaletra and Malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine. The tests were truly successful that these drugs will now be rolled out to COVID-19 patients in at least 50 hospitals nationwide.
Paterson also said that the 50 hospitals will definitely try to resolve the best way to use these drugs and that this would involve comparing the two drugs separately and versus the combination of both.
On the same statement, Paterson reassures everyone that they are ready to go and quickly begin signing up patients into their trial, though this would only happen by the end of the month. The trial will then enable Paterson and his team to test the first wave of Australian patients.
These two drugs can be given orally as tablets
The federal government has already set aside $13 million for researchers to speed up potential treatments. These can be tested up o 10 treatments and with success, it will go directly through the regulatory approval process.
In France, they have begun using malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine in a small trial. Results only show 25% of tested patients treated with the drug still showed signs of the virus compared to a whopping 90% who did not use the drug.
In China, the active drugs in Kaletra, Lopinavir, and ritonavir, have already been tested in at least 199 patients with positive cases and found disappointing results.
A published study in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 18 stated that the Chinese researchers gave 99 patients these drugs and the remaining had started care for more than four weeks.
The study concluded that hospitalized adult patients with severe cases had no benefit whatsoever with the drugs. This took 16 days for clinical improvements to arise. Although, the study did find that Kaletra spent the least time in intensive care.
An estimated 35 companies and educational institutions have been doing their best to try to work on vaccines and for COVID-19.
REMINDER: We continue to encourage hand-washing and social distancing by leaving at least 6 ft. of space between yourself and others when you are outside of your room or apartment. This includes walking around outside, eating at a dining hall, or visiting the library. Here are some other ways to stay healthy.
Finally, please continue to keep our Principles of Community in mind. Don’t forget to practice grace, empathy, and compassion towards yourself and others. We will get through this moment in time together.