Our Story

The Australian Strep A Vaccine Initiative (ASAVI)

ASAVI’s mission is to progress the development of a safe and effective vaccine to reduce the disease burden caused by Strep A infection (also called Group A Streptococcus or Streptococcus pyogenes). To achieve this goal, we have built partnerships with industry, academic partners, and public health organisations across the globe, including the Strep A Vaccine Global Consortium (SAVAC) with whom we work closely. Importantly in Australia, we have developed strong ties with Indigenous communities and leaders to facilitate the uptake of a successful vaccine in the future.

What we do

We aim to become global leaders in accelerating the development of Strep A vaccines.
Our first project will be in partnership with industry to fast-track first in human studies of a lead vaccine candidate. We’re also gathering baseline epidemiological data around Strep A-related sore throats and other related diseases – an important first step towards informing successful vaccine trials. Additionally, we’re consulting with Indigenous communities to enable vaccine uptake in populations at risk of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia.

How we do it

Following the adoption of the 2018 World Health Organisation resolution on Rheumatic Heart Disease, and against a backdrop of increasing Rheumatic Heart Disease rates in Australia’s Aboriginal communities, the Australian Government awarded ASAVI a AU$35 million grant to accelerate a lead Strep A vaccine candidate into clinical trials. As a result, in 2021 Open Philanthropy also pledged US$5.3 million toward our work. We are grateful to our supporters as we build a global consortium of funding partners. Thanks to this support, we now have the opportunity to advance the Strep A vaccine effort. ASAVI has established a Scientific Advisory Board and an Indigenous Advisory Board consisting of eminent national and international experts in their respective fields to guide our work.

What drives us

Globally, Strep A kills more than half a million people a year – more than influenza, typhoid or whooping cough. In Australia, Strep A diseases disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In fact, Indigenous Australians have one of the highest rates of Rheumatic Heart Disease in the world. A Strep A vaccine has the potential to save millions of lives, and improve the health of children affected by Strep A infections worldwide.

Vaccination also provides the added benefits of reducing reliance on antibiotic treatment thus reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

“Our goal is to prevent the Strep A infections occurring in the first place – before they can cause serious and life-threatening complications – and a vaccine is critical to this work.”
–  Professor Jonathan Carapetis.

“A new vaccine could stop Strep A infections in Australia and around the world. Globally Strep A is almost as deadly as malaria parasites, tuberculosis bacteria and HIV, with rheumatic heart disease alone affecting more than 39 million people, causing about 300,000 deaths. That is why it’s imperative we develop a vaccine.”
Professor Andrew Steer.

July 2019
ASAVI project commenced
March 2020
Convened Scientific Advisory Board and held first meeting
July 2020
Convened Indigenous Advisory Board and held first meeting
September 2020
Selected lead candidate for Strep A vaccine development
March 2021
Open Philanthropy announced funding of ASAVI
April 2021
Commenced the Sore Throat Study
December 2021
Leducq announced funding of ASAVI

What’s next?

  • Partnership with vaccine developer of lead candidate
  • Development of community consultation strategy
  • Complete Sore Throat Study
  • Start human trials of lead candidate

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are referred to as Indigenous Australians throughout this website.

We are funded by the Australian Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and our philanthropic partners.

  • Open Philanthropy