The South African government on Friday began a global Covid vaccine study on children and teenagers led by Chinese maker Sinovac Biotech, reported Africa News.
The Phase 3 clinical trials of the Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine will see those aged between 6 months and 17 years getting jabbed, with the first of the 2,000 children receiving the vaccine. Notably, over a third of the South African population is younger than 19.
The trial is being carried out in collaboration with Sinovac’s South African partner Numolux Group.
The first two participants got jabbed on Friday. The identities of the two, both aged 17 years, have not been disclosed to protect their privacy as they received their vaccines at the MeCRU Clinical Research Unit.
The study is aimed at testing the efficacy of the two-dose CoronaVac vaccine on 14,000 children. It will enroll 2,000 South African participants and 12,000 others in Chile, Kenya, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
In a statement, Sinovac said the primary objective of the study is to evaluate the efficacy of two doses of the CoronaVac against confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 cases in children and adolescents. It said that the efficacy of the vaccine will also be evaluated against hospitalization and severe COVID-19 cases.
CoronaVac has been approved for use among adults in more than 50 countries. China also gave a nod to the use of the vaccine in minors and has already jabbed millions of children aged three to 17.
“We see a lot of milder and less severe disease in children, but they still remain susceptible,” project director Sanet Aspinall told reporters at the event.
She assured that the Chinese vaccine was safe.
South Africa accounts for over 35 percent of the total COVID-19 infections in Africa, with more than 2.8 million confirmed cases.
Sinovac is also in talks about setting up a vaccine production facility in South Africa.