South Africa, the country with the highest coronavirus cases in Africa will roll out the first coronavirus vaccine trial in Africa this week.
The vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, was developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute and it’s far already being evaluated in Britain, where 4,000 members have signed up for the trial.
South Africa has got down to vaccinate 2,000 people with the vaccine. Fifty of the candidates have HIV.
“We started screening members for the South African Oxford 1 Covid-19 vaccine trial last week, and the firts members might be vaccinated this week,” University of Witwatersrand (Wits) vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi told a digital press conference.
Wits is taking part with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute at the South African trial.
Brazil is planning its own pilot, while the USA is preparing to test any other vaccine in a mass trial of as much as 30,000 participants, AFP reports.
“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”.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize echoed Madhi’s concerns, caution that South Africa was going through a “devastating storm” predicted to peak “during the cold winter months”.
At the opening of a field hospital in the Eastern Cape Province, Mjize said more than half of the South African Population may be infected with the Lethal (Deadly) Virus.
“Our scientific estimation is that 60 to 70 percentage of our population may be infected through coronavirus,” the minister said at the launch on Tuesday, including that hospitalisation rates remained lower than anticipated.
Over 3,500 doctors and nurses have contracted COVID-19 since the begin of the pandemic, and at least 34 have succumbed to the respiratory disease.
While South Africa prepares for its coronavirus vaccination trial, health officials have also pegged excessive hopes on dexamethasone, a generic anti-inflammatory drug found to lessen mortality among ventilated patients.