HKU Vaccine Effort


Research Institution

The University of Hong Kong


HKU has joined a global effort to develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19, led the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The HKU effort is led by the university’s State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases (SKL).

Launched at Davos in 2017, CEPI is a partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations in a joint effort to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. Established in 2005, SKL has played a key role in supporting Hong Kong’s response to several outbreaks of infectious diseases, including the current COVID-19. Professor Yuen Kwok-yong, of the Department of Microbiology, serves as a co-director of the lab.

SKL is the latest research lab to join CEPI to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently there are seven COVID-19 vaccines in development by different expert teams around the world. The HKU team is led by Professor Honglin Chen, along with team members Professor Zhiwei Chen, Professor Yiwu He and Professor Yuen.

Research Team

Honglin Chen
The University of Hong Kong
Zhiwei Chen
The University of Hong Kong
Yiwu He
The University of Hong Kong
Yuen Kwok Yung
The University of Hong Kong

Project Details

Funding Sources

Government, CEPI

Project Phases

Planned Time to Trials

> 12 Months

Additional Resources

In response to the SARS-CoV2 outbreak, researchers at HKU have made a vaccine candidate based on the established flu-based DelNS1 live attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) platform. This vaccine candidate has several unique properties:

  • It is a flu-based vaccine and can combine with any seasonal flu vaccine strains.
  • It is live attenuated with the deletion of the key virulent element and immune antagonist, NS1, from the viral genome and potentially be more immunogenic than wild type influenza virus.
  • It can be produced in chicken embryonated eggs and MDCK cells which are proven production systems for influenza vaccines.
  • It uses flu vector to express a specific antigen to induce immunity targeting the critical element of the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of SARS-CoVs. Such strategy may avoid potential antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) as observed in the experimental vaccine for SARS-CoV.
  • It can be used as nasal spray.

Press Coverage


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