Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

SA participating in Covid-19 vaccine trials - Health Minister

By Lou-Anne Daniels Time of article published Mar 28, 2020

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South Africa is participating in clinical trials to find a vaccine for Covid-19, which has already infected more than 500 000 people globally, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday night. 

T he Public Health Emergency Solidarity Trial was initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to conduct a clinical trial to find effective treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China .

Mkhize said that WHO has convened an independent group of experts to review evidence from laboratory, animal and clinical studies to prioritize treatments for inclusion in the trial. The group identified the following treatment options for inclusion in the trial:

* Remdesivir: a drug which was previous used in an Ebola trial;

* Lopinavir/ritonavir: a licensed treatment for HIV/AIDS

* Lopinavir/ritonavir with interferon beta-1a: used for multiple sclerosis;

* Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine: drugs used to treat malaria and rheumatology conditions respectively

"All participating countries will adhere to the same methodology in order to facilitate the worldwide comparison of unproven treatments. Other countries that have already confirmed their participation in this trial are Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand," Mkhize said. 

"The South African Solidarity research team is led by Professors Helen Rees and Jeremy Nel, working 30 senior academics, researchers and clinicians from eight medical schools in the country (WITS, SMU, UP, UCT, Stellenbosch, NMU, UKZN, UFS, and the SA Military Health Service). They will be undertaking the study in fourteen leading hospitals across the country." 

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