South Africa’s first clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine starts at Wits this week

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As of 22nd June there are 101 590 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa which has led to 1 991 deaths since March.

The world is currently griped by the COVID-19 pandemic and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has announced that it is set to begin the first clinical trial for a vaccine this week.

The trial has been dubbed the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial and participants were screened last week. The participants are being vaccinated this week.

The announcement was made via a virtual press conference this morning.

The importance of a vaccine is wonderfully explained by professor of vaccinology at Wits, Professor Shabir Madhi in the video below.

Wits is working with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute to test the vaccine.

The University of Oxford, earlier this month, discovered that dexamethasone reduced deaths of COVID-19 patients on ventilators by as much as 35 percent.

At present the vaccine is known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 as it is made from a virus called ChAdOx1 which is described by Wits as a “weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus”.

As Madhi explains in the video above, those participating in the trial are not actually being infected with COVID-19. Instead, they are being injected with the above virus which has been engineered to express the COVID-19 spike protein so that scientists can study how the body reacts.

“The vaccine was developed at the 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,” explains a press release sent out by Wits.

The study has been subject to rigourous review and has been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Here’s hoping the vaccine trial is successful and yields good results.

[Source – University of the Witwatersrand]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.