South Africa announced Tuesday that it will begin its first clinical trial this week for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
Participants from across Africa will be vaccinated in the South African-led trial, researchers said during a virtual news conference hosted at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg.
The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection.
“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA), who is leading the trial.
“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,” Madhi said.
The school is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the trial.
The vaccine being used in the trial is the same one used in the UK and Brazil, according to a statement posted on Wits’ website.
South Africa is the worst-hit country on the continent with 101,590 cases and 1,991 deaths. Health officials have warned of a surge in infections in the coming days. At least 53,444 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the country, which translates to a recovery rate of 52.6%.
Authorities have conducted nearly 1.4 million tests since the virus was first detected in the country nearly three months ago, with 25,116 carried out in the past 24 hours.