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Coronavirus vaccine: updates on the search for the cure

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Coronavirus vaccine: updates on the search for the cure

Six facts about the coronavirus vaccine trial that is underway at Wits

On 23 June Wits University announced that South Africa’s first coronavirus vaccine trial would begin this week. Find out six facts about the trial and how it will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa. 

IT IS CALLED THE SOUTH AFRICAN OX1COV-19 VACCINE VIDA-TRIAL
The “South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial” might seem like a mouthful, but it carries a lot of useful information when you break it down. “Ox1” comes from a virus called ChAdOx1 (a version of a common cold virus) that has been used to create the vaccine. Cov-19, as you can probably guess, refers to Covid-19. And VIDA stands for the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit - the part of the South Africa Medical Research Council who will be conducting the trial. 

IT WILL BE AFRICA’S FIRST COVID-19 VACCINE TRIAL
This will be the first trial for a vaccine against Covid-19 done on the continent. It will be led by Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of VIDA, in collaboration with Oxford University and the Oxford Jenner Institute. 

THE FIRST PARTICIPANTS WILL BE VACCINATED THIS WEEK
Professor Madhi has stated that participants for the study have been found and will be vaccinated this week. The same vaccine is also being studied in the UK, with over 4,000 participants, and an even larger trial is planned in the USA, with over 30,000 participants. Another trial is about to begin in Brazil.

IT IS ONE OF 100 VACCINES CURRENTLY BEING TESTED
According to Wits University’s press release, “there are currently over 100 candidate Covid-19 vaccines in development around the world and many of South Africa’s best vaccine research institutions will soon be involved in a range of vaccine studies”. 

IT WILL WORK BY PRODUCING ANTIBODIES
“It produces what we call antibodies,” says Professor Madhi, “and we hope that those antibodies will protect someone from developing severe disease. It might not protect someone from getting infected, but it will protect someone from becoming clinically ill”. 

IT COULD BE AVAILABLE NEXT YEAR
At this stage of the trial, it is difficult to determine when the vaccine will be available to the public. Professor Madhi stated that his best guess would be “around about September or October of next year, provided that we actually show that the vaccine works this year”. 

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The Western Cape has opened a number of temporary hospital facilities

Find out five facts about the Covid-19 breakthrough drug dexamethasone

There is a lot more to find out about coronavirus in Cape Town

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