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The first clinical trial in South Africa and on the continent for a Covid-19 vaccine was announced today, 23 June 2020, at a virtual press conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits)

The first participants in the trial will be vaccinated this week. According to a media release by the university, 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.

Wits University is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the South African trial.

Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA), leads the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“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 Madhi at the launch of the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial, which is being run at multiple sites in South Africa.

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The vaccine is already being evaluated in a large clinical trial in the UK where more than 4 000 participants have already been enrolled. In addition to the South African study, similar and related 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.

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