The First COVID-19 Vaccine Trial in South Africa Starts
The start of the trial of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa has been announced by Professor Shabir Madhi on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at a virtual press conference.
Shabir Madhi is a Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA).
The South African trial will be done with the collaboration of Wits University, University of Oxford, and the Oxford Jenner Institute.
Based on a separate announcement released by the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Oxford, the participants in South Africa’s first clinical trial for a vaccine against COVID-19 are to be vaccinated this week.
The Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine on Trial
The aim of the trial of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa or the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial is to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to Oxford University, the technical name of the vaccine is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, since it is made from a virus called ChAdOx1. Furthermore, this vaccine has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The ChAdOx1 virus, on the other hand, is a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus (adenovirus).
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 has been developed at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Jenner Institute and it’s currently on trial in the UK wherein there are already over 4,000 participants enrolled in the clinical trial.
While for the trial in South Africa, as Madhi 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.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Trial on South Africa
“Now recently what we’ve been able to do as part of the research unit in South Africa is that with our collaboration with the scientists at Oxford University we’ve been able to reach an agreement for them to actually provide us with a vaccine for us to actually see whether the vaccine actually works in a South African population.”
– Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA), on June 23, 2020
According to Madhi, knowing if the vaccine actually works in a South African population is important for multiple reasons.
“Because the past experiences with other vaccines have been that when a vaccine works in one country or one setting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the same would occur in another setting because we’ve got our own unique circumstances in the African context,” added the professor. “So it is critical that we actually understand whether the vaccine works in the local context.”
The COVID-19 vaccine trial which will be done for South Africa is the Phase 2 study wherein they will be looking at the safety and efficacy of the vaccine which basically means that they’re going to determine whether the vaccine protects against COVID-19 or not.
When Will the COVID-19 Vaccine be Available to the Public
So when will it be possible for the COVID-19 vaccine to actually be available to the public?
Provided that the study can actually show that the vaccine works this year, Madhi said that his best guess right now is probably around September or October or next year.
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