JOHANNESBURG. — South Africa plans to roll out the continent’s first coronavirus vaccine trial this week, according to the university leading the pilot, as the country grapples with the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa.
The vaccine candidate, developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute in the United Kingdom, is already being evaluated there, where 4 000 participants have signed up for the trial.
In South Africa, the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute in the trial of the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.
The pilot will involve 2 000 people, including 50 who have HIV.
“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,” Wits vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi told a virtual news conference.
Brazil is planning its own pilot, while the United States is preparing to test another vaccine in a mass trial of up to 30 000 participants.
South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped to more than 100 000 on Monday, while the number of deaths inched towards 2 000.
“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, describing the vaccine trial as a “landmark moment”. — Al Jazeera.