The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has launched the first vaccine trial for Covid-19 in South Africa. They have come together with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute to make this possible. The first participants will be vaccinated this week.
The announcement for this vaccine trial came on 23 June at a virtual press conference by Wits and is expected to be a major step forward in the Covid-19 global pandemic.
The technical name of the vaccine 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.
Wits has stated, "The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19."
The vaccine was found to be safe. “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,” said Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University.
The vaccine was initially developed by scientists at Oxford University. It is estimated that a billion doses will be able to be manufactured per year, should the vaccine work.
Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice Principal and Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs at the Wits University, has said that, "Vaccines are amongst the most powerful tools to mitigate life-threatening diseases. Without a vaccine against Covid-19, there will likely be ongoing contagion, causing severe illness and death."
Vaccine trials are also being run in the UK and similar studies are about to start in Brazil. An even larger study of the same vaccine of up to 30,000 participants is planned in the USA.
There are currently over 100 candidate Covid vaccines in development around the world.