Novavax's Nita Patel with a computer model showing the protein structure of a potential coronavirus vaccine at the lab in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in March. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Novavax began clinical trials of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus in Australia on Tuesday, per a statement from the Maryland-based biotechnology firm.

The state of play: 131 volunteers in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Brisbane will undergo injections as part of the study, the company's research chief Gregory Glenn said during a briefing, per Australian Associated Press.

  • "We are in parallel making doses, making vaccine in anticipation that we'll be able to show it's working and be able to start deploying it by the end of this year," he added.

Of note: Tests on animals indicated the vaccine is effective in low doses, according to Novavax.

How it works: "Novavax used genetic engineering to grow harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein in giant vats of insect cells in a laboratory," AP reports. "Scientists extracted and purified the protein, and packaged it into virus-sized nanoparticles."

What's next: The results of this first phase of the trials are expected in July.

  • Novavax plans a second phase of the study in multiple countries including the U.S. if the first proves fruitful. This would also examine whether COVID-19 is reduced by the vaccine.

The big picture: There are at least 92 vaccines under development for COVID-19. 22 of these are experimental DNA- or RNA-based vaccines that provide the most hope for speedy development, per Axios' Alison Snyder and Eileen Drage O'Reilly.

By the numbers: COVID-19 has killed more than 346,000 people worldwide, including over 98,000 in the U.S. Almost 5.5 million have tested positive for the virus — over 1.6 million of whom are in the U.S.
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CDC requests states ready COVID-19 vaccine distribution by November

CDC director Robert Redfield. Photo: Erin Scott/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week "urgently" requested governors to speed up their permit applications so vaccine distribution sites are operational by early November, McClatchy reports.

Why it matters: When a vaccine is ready, distribution is a major challenge the Trump administration is working to address. Supplies will be limited initially, and even if the most at-risk populations are given priority, that group still numbers in the tens of millions.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 2, 2020 - Health

America's botched coronavirus response foretells a dark future

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

America's failures in handling the coronavirus pandemic bode ill for our ability to deal with climate change and other threats that loom on the horizon.

Why it matters: America's ongoing struggles with the coronavirus have caused tremendous human and economic pain. But what should worry us for future disasters that could be far worse is the way the pandemic has exposed deep political divisions and a disinformation ecosystem that muddies even the hardest facts.