SOUTH AFRICA BEGINS COVID 19 VACCINE TRIAL
South Africa is set to begin the continent's first COVID 19 trial, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) announced today, June 23, 2020.
Termed South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial, it aims to prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial in South Africa would be led by Shabir Madhi, a Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC).
Wits would run the vaccine trial in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute.
"This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic. As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by Covid-19," Professor Madhi said during the launch.
PHOTO CREDIT: Screenshot from University of the Witwatersrand YouTube video
The vaccine is made from a virus called ChAdOx1, a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus (adenovirus). It has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, according to the University's press release.
Participants for the vaccine were screened last week, and the first participants would begin trial this week.
The University of the Witwatersrand says more than 4000 participants have been enrolled in the UK and a larger study of up to 30,000 participants is being planned in the USA. It added that Brazil would soon commence research on the vaccine as well.
According to the University's Press statement, the Director-General in the National Department of Health, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, said:
"The National Department of Health is excited at the launch of this vaccine trial, which will go a long way to cement South Africa's leadership in the scientific space. With Covid-19 infections increasing every day, the development of the vaccine will be the last solution in the long term, and we are fully behind the team leading this trial."
The Coronavirus has killed 474,999 people with Over 9.2 million people infected globally.
South Africa has the highest record of Coronavirus cases in the continent with 101,590 confirmed cases and 1,991 COVID 19 related deaths.
It is worthy of note that the country has also conducted the highest number of COVID-19 tests on the continent with over 1.3 million tests.