University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi has announced the start of the first clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa.
The vaccine, developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute, is already being evaluated in the United Kingdom, where 4,000 participants have signed up for 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,” the professor said.
“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Madhi said.
“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.”
South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped to over 100,000 on Monday, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000.
The technical name of the vaccine being tested in South Africa is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, as it is made from a virus called ChAdOx1, which is a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus (adenovirus).
This vaccine has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.