If there’s one thing that everyone in the world is waiting for, it’s this: a COVID-19 vaccine! Because there are no known cures for the virus yet, our best bet in preventing and controlling this pandemic and finally settling into our ‘new normal’ lives.
South Africa recently tipped over the 100 000 total positive cases of COVID-19 mark, and now sits at 101 590 cases as of 23 June 2020. Of that number, 53 444 people have recovered and 1 991 people have died. As the president continually reminds us, there’s still a long road ahead with the virus — and everything remains unpredictable until a vaccine that works has been developed.
SA’s first trial
Vaccine trials have launched all across the world, and now, professor Shabir Madhi — a professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – recently announced that the first clinical trial for COVID-19 on the continent has officially started in South Africa. The University of Oxford will be collaborating with Wits to begin ‘vaccinating’ participants as part of the clinical trial.
“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Prof. Madhi said in a statement.
“As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19. We began screening participants for the South African Oxford 1 COVID-19 trial last week and the first participants will be vaccinated this week.”
ChAdOx1 nCOV-19: this is the name of the vaccine that’s being tested. In the UK, the vaccine is already being evaluated and over 4000 participants have been enrolled.
“As the world rallies to find health solutions, a South African endeavour for the development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is testament to our commitment of supporting healthcare innovation to save lives,” Pref. Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council said in a statement.
How the trial will work
In the announcement video, Prof. Madhi explains that the vaccine they will be trialling is not a live one.
“The vaccine is not going to cause someone to get infected with the virus, the vaccine that we’re going to be evaluating is not a live vaccine – it doesn’t replicate in the human body,” he said.
“[It will be used] to deliver the protein that is of interest to us and to the body.” This will help them determine if it can be effective in our country’s population.
Watch the video below to learn more about the vaccine trial starting in South Africa: