Scores of participants in South Africa’s first clinical trial for a vaccine against COVID-19 have been vaccinated.
The first clinical trial in South Africa and on the continent for a COVID-19 vaccine was announced on 23 June, at a virtual press conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits).
Wits University is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Vaccine Group on the South African trial.
The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The technical name of the vaccine is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, as it is made from a virus called ChAdOx1, which is a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus (adenovirus). The vaccine has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The vaccine was developed at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Jenner Institute and is currently on trial in the UK, where over 4,000 participants are already enrolled into the clinical trial and enrolment of an additional 10, 000 participants is planned.
In South Africa, at least 80,000 people have already been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 1,674 have died from COVID-19 since March, when the President declared a state of disaster and national lock-down.
By 17 June 2020, South Africa (population: 59 million) contributed to 30% of all diagnosed COVID-19 cases and 23% of all COVID-19 deaths on the African continent (population: 1.34 billion). These statistics emphasise the urgent need for prevention of COVID-19 on the continent.