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The CSIRO has started the first stage of trials on two potential vaccines for COVID-19.

The tests have begun at the Australian animal health laboratory in Geelong, where ferrets are being injected with vaccines.

The animals will be exposed to the virus about four weeks later. Human trials are at least a few months away.

The CSIRO is among dozens of organisations around the world racing to produce an effective treatment, which the World Health Organisation hopes will be on the market before the middle of next year.

The CSIRO is also looking at how a vaccine could be most effectively delivered — including whether a nasal spray could be better than a needle.

In the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, Australians are being urged to get their flu vaccination as soon as possible to reduce strain on the health system caused by the new disease.

Flu shots are rolling out early in medical clinics and pharmacies.

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