Coronavirus: The Kiwi company closing in on world-first bio-bead COVID-19 vaccine trial

New Zealand has recorded another day of zero new cases of COVID-19 in the community - but as we make the most of the freedoms that are the envy of the rest of the world, a Kiwi company has taken a huge leap towards trialling its very own COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation has successfully grown its own 'bio-beads' - microscopic beads that have bits of the virus on them - and now it's launching a PledgeMe campaign to begin working towards clinical trials. 

It might look like any old lab experiment, but the barely-visible dots of bacteria scientists are working with represent a giant milestone for the COVID-19 vaccine efforts of a Kiwi company. 

"Our vaccine is based on bio-beads, and we have grown our bio-beads with little bits of COVID-19 virus attached to the outside of them - and that's really exciting," says Dr Robert Feldman, Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation CEO.

The microscopic 'beads' are grown inside tiny bits of bacteria.

"What we can do is collect those bacteria, crack them open, and then we have a whole lot of beads," explained Dr Feldman.

All together, they look a bit like milk in a test-tube mixture - but Dr Feldman hopes that will form the basis of an injectable COVID-19 vaccine. 

"The body sees something about virus size, covered in bits of the virus, and they go, 'we need to react strongly to that'," he said.

Now that the company has successfully grown the virus-covered beads, he hopes to produce much larger quantities in a fermenter and start taking steps towards clinical trials. 

It's the kind of work that is taking place in laboratories around the world - a desperate search for a COVID-19 vaccine, with hundreds being developed and some with trials already underway.

But no other vaccines are using bio-bead technology. 

"What we need in developing a COVID-19 vaccine is as many shots on goals as possible - so doing something different, doing something that may well be effective, seemed a good idea," Dr Feldman said.

The Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation is launching a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign next month, hoping the support from New Zealanders will help get a vaccine ready for human trials in just over a year. 

Because even when you're nailing no community cases for the third day in a row, it's best to be ready.