IAF supporting SAHMRI in mission for COVID-19 vaccine

02 Dec 2020
IAF supporting SAHMRI in mission for COVID-19 vaccine

SAHMRI is delighted to announce the next chapter of its continued partnership with the Insurance Advisernet Foundation.

IAF has been working side by side with SAHMRI since 2017 and has previously played a significant part in supporting the Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) project to improve patient treatment.

IAF is now focusing its efforts on backing SAHMRI’s world leading trial to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on Australian healthcare workers.

The ‘BRACE Trial’ is a clinical trial of the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, already used globally to immunise against tuberculosis. Participants are randomised to receive BCG or placebo, with their bloods taken at baseline and then three and twelve months following.

Each participant has a Smartphone App to record and track symptoms for 12 months. If participants develop symptoms, they are tested for COVID-19.  

The trial aims to enrol 10,000 healthcare workers from across Australia, Europe and potentially other parts of the world to investigate whether the BCG vaccine can provide protection against COVID-19 infection. 4000 participants have been recruited globally since March. The trial in South Australia is led by Professor David Lynn at SAHMRI in collaboration with clinicians at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

There are now 45 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, which have resulted in more than one million deaths. Efforts to develop a vaccine that provides specific immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, are proceeding at breakneck speed worldwide. Despite this enormous endeavour, most experts estimate that a vaccine is at least 12 months away. The World Health Organisation has also warned that there is also a risk that an effective vaccine will not be found, as an effective coronavirus vaccine has not ever been successfully developed. Given this, there’s an urgent need to evaluate whether existing drugs or vaccines could provide some level of protection against this deadly disease.

The BRACE trial is currently only partially funded and the generous support from IAF will make a considerable difference to the capability for SAHMRI researchers to gain crucial insight into whether the BCG vaccine is suitable for protecting against COVID-19.