South Africa on Tuesday announced it will begin its first clinical trial this week for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, reported Anadolu Agency.
During a virtual news conference hosted at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, the researchers said participants from across Africa will be vaccinated in the South African-led trial.
The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) has collaborated with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute in the trial of the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 in South Africa. The pilot will include 2,000 people, including 50 who have HIV. Another 7,000 people in the UK and 10,000 in the US would also take part in the trial.
“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA), who is leading the 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,” Madhi said.
He described the vaccine trial as a landmark moment.
Africa’s COVID-19 cases crossed 306,567 mark on Monday, confirmed the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
South Africa is the worst-hit African country with 101,590 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,991 deaths. The health officials have reportedly warned of a surge in infections in the upcoming days. Around 53,444 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the country, which translates to a recovery rate of 52.6%. So far, nearly 1.4 million tests have been conducted in South Africa since coronavirus was first detected in the country nearly three months ago.
Madhi said there is an urgent need for a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19 as the number of cases continues to rise globally.