South Africa has announced that it is beginning its first Covid-19 vaccine trial with first participants enrolling this week.
The trial aims at finding a vaccine that will prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The University of the Witwatersrand will be carrying out the trial, according to South African officials.
Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, Shabir Madhi, on Tuesday confirmed the impending trial.
He said “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.”
Already some 1,950 participants, aged between 18 to 65 and who are HIV negative will be undergoing the trial.
Officials said these individuals should not have tested positive for Covid-19 and should not be pregnant or breastfeeding.
They are also not expected to have previously participated in a trial involving an adenoviral vaccine or received any other coronavirus vaccine.
The trial will also enrol 50 persons living with HIV to examine the safety how well they would respond to the vaccine.
Those participating in the trial will remain on the trial for about one year.
“Our best-case scenario is that we would have an answer [on the outcomes] for this particular vaccine by the end of the year,” Madhi said.
Trial implementation style
According to officials participants will receive the ChAdOx1 COVID-19 (ChAdOx1-Cov19) vaccine and the other half (the control group) will receive a placebo (normal saline).
They will then be given an e-diary to record any symptoms experienced for seven days after receiving the vaccine and they will also record if they feel unwell for the following three weeks.
After vaccination the participants will be studied for follow-ups with researchers checking their observations, review the completed e-diaries.
They will then take blood samples, which will be used to assess the immune response to the vaccine.
Researchers are hoping the trial will help determine if the ChAdOx1-Cov19 vaccine will protect against Covid-19.