(Image: AAP/David Crosling)

An early study of a COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be effective at kickstarting an immune response against the virus, while Australia is stuck with millions of partially effective virus tests.

Moderna Miracle

An experimental COVID-19 vaccine may be safe and effective, according to a small human clinical trial.

The vaccine, developed by American biotechnology company Moderna, was tested on eight healthy volunteers who received two doses each. Each volunteer produced neutralising antibodies which stopped the virus from replicating. 

While several more rounds of studies are needed, the early news has sent Moderna stocks soaring. 

Australia’s dud tests 

Nearly two million COVID-19 tests, bought by the federal government and sold to GPs, hospitals and aged care clinics, are duds — with new analysis finding they only have a 50% chance of working. 

Melbourne University’s Doherty Institute found the tests, which measure antibodies developed after recovering from COVID-19, aren’t truly reliable at detecting antibodies. Government officials won’t say how much was spent on the tests.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has changed its approach and is now requiring companies to submit antibody test kits to the Doherty Institute for independent testing. Previously, the TGA simply asked for companies — many of whom have no experience selling medical or diagnostic equipment — to submit data showing the tests worked.

China welcomes scrutiny — on its terms

China’s President Xi Jinping has backed a review of the global response to COVID-19 — but has said the review should be conducted by the World Health Organisation, not an independent probe as suggested by Australia and the European Union. 

Xi, speaking at the opening of the World Health Assembly last night, said the review shouldn’t start until the pandemic is over. He argued China had been transparent about its response from the start and pledged US$2 billion to develop medical infrastructure to help battle the coronavirus in Africa.

Does Africa have the answer?

Coronavirus cases in Africa are spreading much more slowly than in other pandemic-hit countries, with cases roughly doubling every two weeks.

At one point, cases in the US were doubling every three days, though this has slowed.

Most countries on the continent implemented strict lockdown measures early on. With less travel across the continent, cases aren’t seen to be spreading as fast. There are concerns, however: limited testing means the numbers may be as much as eight times higher than reported. 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the rate at which COVID-19 cases were doubling in the US. The data has been amended.