Victorian Critical Vaccinees Collection


Robust and prototypical immune responses toward COVID-19 vaccine in First Nations peoples are impacted by comorbidities
Wuji Zhang et al. Nature Immunology (Published: 29 May 2023)

This study was a collaboration between University of Melbourne and the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, investigating the immunity of COVID-19 vaccines in Australian First Nations and Torres Strait Islander people.  The study recruited First Nations people and analysed blood samples and immune responses to the COVID-19 vaccine before and after vaccination.  The researchers found that Indigenous people had lower levels of antibody production and COVID-19 specific white blood cells compared to non-Indigenous people.  However, utilizing sample collected from the VC2 biobank, comparisons T cell responses for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people after mRNA vaccination, regardless of co-morbidities, were found to be comparable.  The initial findings could therefore be attributed the high incidence of comorbidities such as kidney disease and/or diabetes in Indigenous people rather than ethnicity. The conclusion from this study was that the Australian recommendations for early and additional booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for both high risk groups including Indigenous people and people living with co-morbidities is supported.


Evolution of humoral and cellular immunity post breakthrough COVID-19 in vaccinated patients with hematologic malignancy receiving tixagevimab-cilgavimab
Victoria Hall et al. Open Forum Infectious Diseases (Published: 02 November 2023)

This study was carried out at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and evaluates the long-acting monoclonal antibody Evusheld (generic name tixagevimab-cilgavimab; T-C) which binds SARS-CoV-2 and prevents cell entry.  The study examines how T-C alters antibody and cellular immune response in individuals with blood cancer and how this or other pre-exposure antibodies may be utilized in protection for vulnerable people against COVID-19.  Cancer patients were recruited through Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and healthy control samples from VC2 biobank were used. Treatment in blood cancer patients with T-C increased their antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 and some white blood cells subgroups (CD4+ T cells) to levels comparable to healthy donors following vaccination.  The treatment, however, did not help bring the antibody levels back up for those who received B-cell-depleting therapy.  This study provided valuable information on the future use of monoclonal antibodies as an infection preventative strategy in high-risk and immunocompromised populations.


2022 COVID-19 Research Seed Funding Grants

Grants were awarded to:

  • Dr Yi (David) Ju (RMIT) for the project ‘Exploring COVID-19 mRNA vaccine-induced PEG immunogenicity’
  • Dr Kevin Selva (Doherty Institute) for the project ‘Influence of antibody host genetics and imprinting upon COVID-19 immunity in the elderly’
  • Dr Victoria Hall (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) for the project ‘ matched cohort study to assess prevention of COVID-19 in patients with haematological malignancy who have received pre-exposure prophylaxis with Evusheld (Tixagevimab and Cilgavimab), the CO-EVALUATE study’
  • Professor Eugene Athan (Barwon Health/Deakin University) for the project ‘Inflammatory cytokine profiles in a Victorian long-term cohort of patients recovered from SARS CoV-2 compared to a vaccinated control group’
  • VC2 Research Grants awarded to accelerate COVID-19 research

    VC2 Research Grants awarded to accelerate COVID-19 research