WATCH: Wits launches SA's first Covid-19 vaccine trial
Johannesburg - The first patients to participate in South Africa's first clinical trial for a vaccine against Covid-19 will be vaccinated this week, the University of Witwatersrand announced on Tuesday.
According to the university, the Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Professor Shabir Madhi, Professor in Vaccinology and the Director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit at Wits, made the announcement during a virtual press conference.
The trial, which is being run at multiple sites in South Africa, is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute.
“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.
WATCH THE ANNOUNCEMENT HERE:
“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,” says Madhi, who is also the National Research Foundation/Department of Science and Innovation SARChI (South African Research Chairs Initiative) Chair in Vaccine Preventable Diseases, based at the University of the Witwatersrand.
As of Monday, the country had recorded 101 590 postive cases and 1 991 Covid-19-related deaths, representing nearly a third of all confirmed cases on the African continent.
Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice Principal and Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs at the Wits University, who facilitated the virtual press conference, said: “Wits University identified vaccinology as a key institutional flagship project in 2016. Vaccines are amongst the most powerful tools to mitigate life-threatening diseases. Without a vaccine against Covid-19, there will likely be ongoing contagion, causing severe illness and death. Wits is committed to developing a vaccine to save lives in collaboration with the University of Oxford.”