As South Africa adapts to the new world that the Covid-19 global pandemic has forced us into, it’s important to stay informed.

This is why we’ve partnered with Mzansi’s number one newspaper, Daily Sun, to bring you Covid-19 Conversations — a column that will provide Sun readers with the latest clinical developments around Covid-19.

This is where you’ll find out what scientists across the globe are working on to find safe and effective treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus.

You might be wondering why you should care about staying updated when Mzansi has moved to Level 1 and the department of health has shown us that new infections are decreasing.

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Developing a safe vaccine is the best way to prevent people from being infected by Covid-19 and this is why Mzansi is already involved in three clinical trials that are searching for a vaccine.

Scientists and health experts tell us we are still far from finding a medicine that can cure Covid-19 or one that can prevent people from getting sick.

Clinical trials investigate new ways to prevent, identify and treat diseases and because Covid-19 is a new disease, it could take longer to find a vaccine that works.

These trials allow scientists to see whether or not a vaccine, or a drug, works and is safe for people to use.

They often take place at universities or local clinics and hospitals. Researchers must write a plan on how they will conduct a clinical trial and what they hope to find out from it. In the case of Covid-19, most scientists are looking for a drug that will prevent people from contracting the virus.

In June, the Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine Vida trial started at the University of the Witwatersrand. This trial will have a total of 2 000 people taking part in it.

Mzansi also started a Covid-19 clinical trial in August with NOVOVAX  and the first efficacy trial of a COVID-19 vaccine trial involving between 10 000 - 12 000 South Africans with a vaccine from  Johnson & Johnson that will start in early October.

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The three vaccines being evaluated in South Africa are included in the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of the 26 candidate vaccines that are currently being tested on humans.

In the coming months, we will look closely at each vaccine trial to explore how it works, who can take part and when we can expect results. In the meantime, here’s a graphic that explains the different phases of a clinical trial and where the three trials are along that road!

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? info@africanalliance.org.za