South Africa is set to begin its first human trial of COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to find an effective treatment regime for the virus.
The vaccine candidate, which is developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute in the United Kingdom, is being evaluated, while 4,000 participants have signed up for the trial.
The South African vaccine trial known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is being carried out in collaboration with South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand, Oxford University, and the Oxford Jenner Institute.
The pilot trial will involve 2,000 people, including 50 who have HIV, reveals WITs vaccinology professor, Shabir Madhi.
“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 said.
Speaking further, Madhi said the trial is most likely the first of at least three to four other vaccine studies on COVID-19 that will be done in South Africa within the next six months.
Describing the development as a “landmark moment”, the vaccinologist emphasised the need to have a vaccine as the winter approaches.
“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,” Madhi said.
South Africa’s COVID-19 cases, based on reports have crossed 100,000, as at Monday, while the number of related deaths approached 2,000. More than 3,500 doctors and nurses in the country have also been infected with the virus.
South Africa Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, while echoing Madhi’s concerns said South Africa was going through a “devastating storm” expected to peak “during the cold winter months”.
South Africa is the second country outside of Britain to take part in the Oxford trial after Brazil launched its study on Wednesday.