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Finding working COVID-19 vaccine means faster access for SA - Wits researcher

A collaboration between Wits and the UK's Oxford University started four weeks ago and involves 2,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 65.

FILE: Professor Martin Veller (L), the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University), receives an experimental vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus at the Respiratory & Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit (RMPRU) at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on 14 July 2020. Six senior clinicians in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University have volunteered to participate in South Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN– Finding a working COVID-19 vaccine will mean faster access for South Africa.

That's according to Wits University's Doctor June Fabian, who is among five clinicians from the university who volunteered to participate in Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial.

The collaboration between Wits and the UK's Oxford University started four weeks ago and involves 2,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 65.

South Africa’s Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial has set out to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Nephrologist and research director at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Dr June Fabian said that the significance of the trial was that it was taking place right here on the African continent.

The trial is randomised and will see participants either receive the vaccine candidate or a placebo.

Divisional director of Ezintsha at Wits University, Professor Francois Venter, said that he had enough confidence in the science to participate in the vaccine trial.

“If we can prove that the vaccine works in our population then we can fast track the implementation much quicker. Normally they have to prove that it works in other populations, and then there is a time and then we would have to prove that it works in African populations. So, we are cutting out that whole lag.”

It’s expected that the vaccine efficacy trial currently underway in Gauteng will be extended to the Western Cape by next week.

Two hundred and fifty candidates have been enrolled in the study so far.

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