Other laboratories worldwide have already begun human testing.
Vaccines, made by Oxford University and US company Inovio Pharmaceutical, have already been cleared for animal testing by the World Health Organization and there are several other vaccine developments occurring around the world moving at extraordinary speed.
Australia has also begun testing for potential vaccines.
The Australian national science agency, CSIRO, has begun testing two potential vaccines for Covid-19, with results due by June 2020.
Unlike the other countries, according to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s tests will be the first comprehensive pre-clinical trials of the vaccines to use an animal model.
These pre-clinical trials will assess how effective and safe the potential vaccines are using an animal model and are the first step before human trials
CSIRO will test the vaccines in ferrets because their lungs are similar biologically to humans and the virus duplicates itself in a similar way to humans. Although this is an early-stage trial, scientists are being realistic yet optimistic.
As with all vaccines, these examples will try to trigger a person’s immune system by presenting it an inactive form of the virus or certain virus proteins. Once the immune system has been triggered, it will be primed to fight infection should a person get the virus later on.
Ferrets will then be given each vaccine, either using a nasal spray or as an injection into the muscle, and will then be infected with Covid-19 sometime later to see how their bodies respond. Scientists will compare the responses of vaccinated ferrets with unvaccinated ones. If the vaccines are effective, the virus shouldn’t show up in the animals’ poo.
Scientists will also keep an eye on any side effects of the vaccine as there is a risk that the vaccines could cause damage to lung tissue.
The first results from the animal tests could be revealed as early as June, the scientists said.
If successful, the vaccines could then be moved into clinical trials that could be conducted at labs elsewhere.