The first case of Covid-19 was reported to the World Health Organization in December 2019. By the end of January this year, there were multiple cases in different countries and the WHO declared Covid-19 a public health emergency of international concern.

And now, almost a year later, the world is beginning to see the first signs of vaccines against Covid-19 becoming a reality, which is the most certain way to decrease the number of infections.

However, until there is a safe and effective vaccine, washing of hands or sanitising, wearing masks and social distancing are the best way to stop the spread of Covid-19.

While we do all that we can, scientists across the globe – including here in South Africa – are working hard to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Vaccines are scientifically proven to save millions of lives and there are currently more than forty Covid-19 vaccine trials taking place across the world and four of those are happening right here in Mzansi.

Let’s take a look at one of them.

Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine Vida trial

This is Mzansi’s first clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine, which was announced in June. It is a partnership between the University of Witwatersrand, University of Oxford and the Oxford Vaccine Group.

More than 20 000 people have been recruited into the clinical trials from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. They are either given the new vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or they will receive a placebo, which is made of salt water. A further 30 000 are being enrolled in USA.

The study has completed enrolment of 2000 HIV-negative adult volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 years who haven’t tested positive for Covid-19 and should not be pregnant or breastfeeding.

The trial has also recruited 100 people living with HIV to examine the safety of the vaccine and how well they respond to the vaccine. This is important because South Africa has about 7.8 million people with HIV and it’s important that scientists know how the vaccine works in their bodies.

In September, the Vida trial was temporarily paused after a participant in the United Kingdom fell sick. According to the study’s chief South African investigator, Professor Shabir Madhi, it’s not unusual for a clinical trial to be paused. The trial resumed across all four countries, including Mzansi. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and ethics committees approved the continuation of the trial.

The results of the Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine Vida trial were first expected as early as December, but now Madhi says it’s more likely to be in the first quarter of 2021.

  • Covid-19 Conversations is brought to you by the African Alliance in partnership with the South African Medical Research Council and the Department of Science and Innovation. Questions can be sent to info@africanalliance.org.za