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Understanding COVID-19

Around the world, we’re seeing countries and communities being reshaped by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

To assist the nation and the world in understanding the virus, we’re drawing on our world-leading researchers to help in the quest for a vaccine. The work builds on our strong history of protecting people in Australia and around the world from the threat of infectious diseases.

Female scientist dressed in full protective clothing with earphones and a helmet looking in to a microscope in a laboratory
Around the world, we’re seeing countries and communities being reshaped by the COVID-19 global pandemic. To assist the nation and the world in understanding the virus, we’re drawing on our world‑leading researchers to help Australia’s quest for a vaccine.

Global response

Last year, we entered into a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to prepare for disease outbreaks. In January, a CEPI-led consortium including CSIRO and the University of Queensland started developing and testing potential vaccines, aiming to reduce development time from years to weeks. Using the virus strain developed by the Doherty Institute, we were the first research organisation outside of China to generate sufficient stock of the virus to enable pre-clinical studies and research on COVID-19.

We commenced testing candidate vaccines from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc in the United States. This work is being conducted at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong. It is a truly global effort and we know that collaboration and cooperation are the only way to defeat a global challenge.

Understanding the virus that causes COVID-19

Our researchers have been studying the virus – how long it takes to develop and replicate, how it impacts the respiratory system, how the host responds and how it can be transmitted. We’re also looking to understand its origins, how it may be changing and how it behaves. We’re looking at questions such as what the virus is and how it spreads, where this virus came from, how the virus is changing, how the virus is behaving, and how long the virus can survive.

Fighting the virus

We’re working on the testing and manufacture of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus responsible for causing COVID-19. We’re working with vaccine developers to produce small volumes of candidate vaccines to the highest quality standards for use in trials. We commenced the first stage of testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in late March. We are also working with the research sector and industry regarding the preclinical evaluation of therapeutics, to see if they are effective against COVID-19.

Protection from the virus

We’re testing the performance of advanced materials produced by local manufacturers to boost the supply of medical equipment, including face masks, needed in Australia’s fight against COVID-19. We’re also using 3D printing to produce two designs of protective face shields for Queensland healthcare workers.

Understanding the spread

Queensland, are refining a wastewater surveillance system to monitor COVID-19 prevalence through tracing fragments of the novel coronavirus gene in raw sewerage. The test provides an early warning of infection, as the virus sheds in the stools of infected people even before they show symptoms. This gives governments an extra public health management tool, which can be used in vulnerable communities, long-haul transport, and even nursing homes.

From advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, social media data analytics, simulation and scenario planning, we're helping government and industry partners inform decision-making.

In Indonesia, through our partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we’re developing a data decision-making platform to help authorities understand where the need for targeted action, direct testing, medical resources and social assistance is needed most.