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South Africa’s and Continent’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Has Began

At the time of publication, South Africa was standing at over 125,000 cases of coronavirus and 2340 deaths. The recoveries standing at 64 111 as the race for the vaccine continues. Globally, 9,76 million cases been identified with over 493K deaths. There are over 4.92 million recoveries on the global scale of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement announced by South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand (Popularly known as WITS) on Monday – the country’s very first vaccination for COVID-19 has started.

The COVID-19 vaccine to go under clinical trials in South Africa is called ChAdOx1-nCOV-19 aimed to prevent the COVID-19 infection. (Please note that the vaccine was developed by Oxford University’s (UK) Jenner Institute)

The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial is led by Shabir Madhi, a Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA).

In a statement, Shabir said, “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,”

Shabir also added that ‘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,’

ChAdOx1-nCOV-19 is being evaluated in a large clinical trial in the UK with more than 4000 participants.

‘In addition to the South African study, similar and related studies are about to start in Brazil. An even larger study of the same vaccine of up to 30,000 participants is planned in the USA.’ Wits stated.

Professor Helen Rees who is the Chair of SAHPRA and Executive Director of the Wits RHI said “It is essential that vaccine studies are performed in southern hemisphere countries, including in the African region, concurrently with studies in northern hemisphere countries,”

“This allows evaluation of the efficacy and safety of candidate vaccines to be assessed in a global context, failing which the introduction of many life-saving vaccines into public immunization programmes for low-middle income countries frequently lags behind those in high-income countries,” Rees added.

Dr. Sandile Buthelezi, who is the Director-General of Health in the National Department of Health, added that ‘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.’

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