South Africa begins first COVID-19 vaccine trial


The first clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine on the African continent is due to commence in South Africa on Wednesday.

This was announced at a virtual press conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits).

The institution said that 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 would be enrolled for the trial, which was expected to be run at multiple sites in South Africa.

The vaccine, developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute, is already being evaluated in the United Kingdom, where 4,000 participants have signed up for the trial.

“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,” said Wits vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi at the launch of the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“We began screening participants for the South African Oxford 1 COVID-19 vaccine trial last week, and the first participants will be vaccinated this week,” he added.

South Africa has been chosen because Covid-19 is now spreading fast here. The country’s coronavirus cases jumped to over 100,000 on Monday, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000.

In addition to the South African study, similar studies are about to start in Brazil and the United States.

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