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Wits to officially begin SA’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial

The trial subjects will come from hotspots where the risk of the coronavirus was the highest.

FILE: Medical swabs to test for the coronavirus. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Two thousand South African volunteers are set to be given the Wits and Oxford Universities vaccine for COVID-19 over the next two months. And by the end of the year, scientists will know if it works.

Wits University is expected to launch the clinical trials on Wednesday while 7,000 more people in the UK and 10,000 in the US would also take part in the trial.

Of the 2,000 participants, 1,950 are HIV negative and 50 people are living with HIV and all are between 18 to 65.
Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University Shabir Madhi is leading the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“We are trying to see whether there is at least 60% protection against COVID-19, it might be higher or lower. If it is lower, our study would not have the power to conclusively say whether the vaccine works or not,” Madhi said.

The trial subjects will come from hotspots where the risk of the coronavirus was the highest.

“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,” said Professor Glenda Gray.

The study will cost $150 million and is funded by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Bill Gates Foundation.

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

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