South Africa is set to roll out the continent’s first coronavirus vaccine trial this week, the university leading the pilot said Tuesday.
The vaccine, developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute, is already being evaluated in Britain, where 4,000 participants have signed up for the trial.
South Africa has set out to vaccinate 2,000 people with the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Fifty of the candidates have HIV.
Over 3,500 doctors and nurses have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and at least 34 have died.
“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,” University of Witwatersrand (Wits) vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi told a virtual press conference as the country grapples with the highest number of cases in Africa.
South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped to more than 100,000 on Monday, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000.
While South Africa prepares for its coronavirus vaccination trial, health officials have also pegged high hopes on dexamethasone, a generic anti-inflammatory drug found to reduce mortality among ventilated patients.
“We are especially at an advantage as we are a country that is very familiar with dexamethasone,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said, noting that three South African companies supplied the steroid.