Wits University announced during a virtual press conference hosted by the university that it was beginning clinical trials for the first African COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, 24 June 2020.
The institution said that 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 would be enrolled for the trial, which was expected to be run at multiple sites in South Africa.
Wits is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the South African trial.
“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,” Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, Shabir Madhi.
Participants, aged between 18 to 65 and who are HIV negative, should not have tested positive for Covid-19 and should not be pregnant or breastfeeding, nor have previously participated in a trial involving an adenoviral vaccine or received any other coronavirus vaccine.
The trial will also enroll 50 persons living with HIV to examine the safety and how well they respond to the vaccine.
Participants will need to provide written informed consent to participate in the trial. They will remain on the trial for about one year.
The study, which will come at a cost of R150m, will take place in urban metropoles where the risk of SARS-CoV2 infection is high, and which are likely to be Covid-19 hotspots.
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