One of Australia’s most eminent vaccine developers says there may never be a vaccine against COVID-19 for some very good reasons.

Professor Ian Frazer, the immunologist who co-invented the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine which prevents cervical cancer, said a coronavirus vaccine was “tricky”.

He told news.com.au that although 100 different teams around the world were testing for vaccines, medical scientists did not have a model of how to attack the virus.

The professor of medicine at Queensland University, which is testing for its own COVID-19 vaccine, said immunisation against coronavirus was similar to immunising against the common cold.

“It is tricky, vaccines for upper respiratory tract diseases, because the virus lands on the outside of you,” Prof Frazer said.

“Think of us as a football, with the skin and respiratory tract on the outside of the football and the lungs are where the outside interfaces with the inside.

“The place where the virus lands is outside us and it tries to infect the cells within us.

“Our immune system is inside of us. When it lands inside our lungs it tries to infect our cells and succeeds. Our immune system goes to fight the virus and that’s why people get sick.

“If the immune system turns on too strong it can cause damage to the lungs.

“The wrong vaccine could make things worse so we have to be very selective about what part of the virus we want to attack.

“If you immunise someone with a vaccine, it goes inside and makes an immune response within you.

“What you want is an immune response to migrate out to where the virus lands.

“There is no vaccine against the common cold.”

Prof Frazer said that with flu, the immune response inside a person’s body didn’t occur until the flu virus gets inside them.

“We tried to deliver a vaccine to the lungs with the Flu Mist which you snuffed up your nose, delivering the vaccine to the place where you need an immune response, but it didn’t work terribly well,” he said.

Testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine at the Queensland University, which will partner with Dutch company, Viroclinics Xplore in preclinical studies. Picture: UQ

Testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine at the Queensland University, which will partner with Dutch company, Viroclinics Xplore in preclinical studies. Picture: UQSource:Supplied

Immunologist Professor Ian Frazer says 100 teams globally are trying to develop an effective vaccine against coronavirus.

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