Coronavirus

South Africa hosts phase 2 Covid-19 vaccine trials

The second phase of human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by the American biotechnology company Novavax is set to be conducted in South Africa.

South Africa hosts phase 2 Covid-19 vaccine trials
Anton Vaganov REUTERS

South Africa is ready to host human trials of Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 - produced by the American company Novavax. The drug is based on stimulating an immune response to confer protection against Covid-19.

The trial will be led by professor University of Witwatersrand Shabir Madhi who explained “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”.

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A total of 2904 volunteers aged between 18-46 years old will be randomly chosen for the trial. It was proven through phase 1 trials conducted in Australia that the vaccine candidate was generally well-tolerated and drew robust antibody responses that were numerically superior to those seen in humans who have recovered from COVID-19. Studies conducted in non-humans showed the development of resistance against coronavirus in the nasal passage and lungs.

Madhi also explained the reason why South Africa is taking part in trials of several vaccines. He believes it will put the country in a good position in its battle with Covid-19, and will make it easier for the country to discover which vaccines would be the most suitable for its population; also, less than 10% of the vaccines that undergo trials get licensed.

"The main reason we want to run more than one study on COVID-19 (vaccines) is the legacy of vaccines is less than 10 percent of vaccines that enter human trials actually get licensed. The other reason why we need to evaluate multiple vaccines is that there is no telling which of the vaccines will protect against COVID-19 in different populations. We probably are going to require four to five vaccines that have been shown to be safe and efficacious". He stated.