A large-scale test of the coronavirus vaccine began in South Africa on Wednesday, making it the first African nation included in the study.
The University of Oxford in Great Britain is conducting vaccine trials in South Africa, Great Britain and Brazil. The university, the Oxford Jenner Institute and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg are collaborating on the South African part of the trials, according to a statement.
The first participants in the trial were evaluated last week and will be vaccinated this week, said Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccination at the University of the Witwatersrand who runs the South African trials.
“This is a historic moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic. As we enter winter in South Africa and the pressure on public hospitals increases, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 infection, “Madhi said in a statement.
Last week, South Africa had 30 percent of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 23 percent of deaths on the African continent. This week, the country also experienced its largest one-day rise in COVID-19 deaths with 111 on Tuesday.
Overall, Africa has counted almost 325,000 cases. Countries have begun to lift coronavirus restrictions, and people say they have been unable to feed their families while locked up.
Some public experts predict that the continent will become the next hot spot in the pandemic.
The chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa, John Nkengasong, said on Wednesday that the pandemic was delayed in Africa “but is accelerating very rapidly.” The Associated Press reported.
“Unless we act now, Africa is at risk of being left behind with the global vaccine,” he said.
All 54 African countries now have the laboratory capacity to detect the coronavirus, compared to February, when only two were able to do so, the accordion obtained the AP.
African leaders have been calling for more medical supplies, saying they have been left out of competition during the pandemic. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the initial supply of the vaccine should be distributed where necessary, rather than based on a country’s “ability to pay”.
Oxford University and AstraZeneca are expected to begin their third phase of testing in the United States in August, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases confirmed to The Hill earlier this month.