Australia’s deputy chief medical officer has lauded a “very encouraging” breakthrough in coronavirus vaccine research as infection numbers continue to rise.
Victoria has recorded another 374 cases and three more people have died.
NSW confirmed 13 new positive cases on Tuesday, just one of whom is in hotel quarantine.
Most of the NSW cases were linked to growing clusters at an outer Sydney restaurant and pub.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is confident his state’s strict lockdown measures are having a direct impact.
“At the end of the day, we’re not seeing the (case numbers) doubling and doubling again,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has outlined a series of cuts to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker coronavirus support payments, which will be reduced in coming months.
In the United Kingdom, Oxford University scientists working with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca say a trial shows the vaccine produces a protective immune response and appears to be safe.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said safety and effectiveness would be key.
“It looks very encouraging and I know Professor Andy Pollard and his group of researchers there, they are absolutely world-class,” he told ABC television.
The vaccine is intended to induce antibody and T-cell responses so it can attack the virus and infected cells.
“They’re the two parts of the immune system that will work in concert to protect against COVID-19,” Dr Coatsworth said.
Expanded trials will aim to vaccinate 50,000 people over the next six to eight weeks.
Dr Coatsworth, who is on Australia’s vaccination task force, said there were significant steps to get through but he was hopeful.
“The finger is absolutely on the pulse here to make sure that we understand if and when the vaccine is going to become available for Australians,” he said.
Dr Coatsworth warned people to change behaviour around social distancing, hygiene and testing or risk a Melbourne-style outbreak.
“If people don’t get the message, they will find themselves in the situation that greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are in at the moment,” he said.