South Africa begins second COVID-19 vaccine trial


South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand on Monday started the second COVID-19 vaccine trial in the country, said the institution.


Shabir Madhi, Executive Director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA) at Wits and the Faculty of Health Sciences Dean-elect said.

Madhi said that he would lead the Phase II trial of the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine, which is produced by U.S.-based biotech company Novavax.

Madhi said the trial will enroll up to 2,904 volunteers aged 18-64 years and evaluate if the ”nanoparticle S-protein”, in the COVID-19 vaccine protects against the disease in these age group.

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“The major motivation for COVID-19 vaccines being evaluated at an early stage in South Africa is to generate evidence in the African context on how well these vaccines work in settings such as our own.

This would enable informed decision-making when advocating for the adoption of this or other COVID-19 vaccines in African countries, once they are shown to be safe and effective,” said Madhi.

He is also leading the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial launched on June 23, in association with the University of Oxford and the Jenner Institute.

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“Participating in the clinical development of these vaccines at the outset will assist in advocating for South Africans to be amongst the first in line to access these life-saving vaccines, once they become available,” he said.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Novavax, a 15 million grant towards the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy trial in South Africa.

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The South African study is part of a larger, global clinical programme to evaluate NVX-CoV2373, including a larger Phase III studies with approximately 30,000 participants, to be launched throughout the world.

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