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Wits University begins SA’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial

The institution said 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 would be enrolled for the trial, which was expected to be run at multiple sites in South Africa.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University on Tuesday said that it was beginning clinical trials for the first African COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

The announcement was made during a virtual press conference hosted by the university.

The institution said that 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 would be enrolled for the trial, which was expected to be run at multiple sites in South Africa.

This would be through a collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the South African trial. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has partnered with the Bill Gates Foundation to develop the vaccine.

Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and director of SAMRC’s Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics (VIDA) Research Unit, Shabir Madhi, is leading the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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,” said Madhi at the launch of the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“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,” he added.

While the use of the vaccine is still a long way off, health director general doctor Sandile Buthelezi said the trials are much needed as the country has now had more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases.

“We currently now depend mainly on non-pharmaceutical interventions. So, if there’s any way we can fast-track our road to getting a vaccine would be great for us as a country.”

WATCH: Announcement of SA's first COVID-19 vaccine trial

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