Dean of the Wits University Health Sciences Martin Veller says even if proven effective, it would take at least a year and a half before the drug being tested for COVID-19 would become available to the public.
On Wednesday a R150 million large-scale clinical trial begins in South Africa, where 2000 people will form part of the country’s trials with the first group, consisting of 50 HIV negative people, being vaccinated this week.
Later this month another 1 900 people will be added and receive a different and stronger dose of the vaccine.
Veller says the participants will be monitored for up to a year to ensure the efficacy of the vaccine.
He says, “The duration of the study is that recruitment will occur within the next few months and all participants in the trial will be followed for a year, then one is going to look at the outcome of the trial when a particular threshold of numbers of infections in the participants has occurred. Once one has that threshold, one can be reasonably sure that the drug is effective then it will go into production…”
“So even if this vaccine is found to be efficacious quite quickly you know even if that’s in the next 4 to 5 months it will then take some time before it becomes available,”added Veller.
Half of the participants will receive the vaccine, while the rest will be administered a placebo, only adults between the ages of 18-65 years will be eligible to participate.
Race against time
With over 9 million coronavirus cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, it’s a race against time to find a vaccine.
South Africa will now begin testing a vaccine manufactured at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The first patient will be vaccinated on Wednesday.
As South Africa breaches the over 100 000 infections mark, SABC News reporter Chriselda Lewis and cameraman Thulo Monare visited one of the vaccine trial sites in Johannesburg and spoke exclusively to a participant.
these trial participants speak exclusively to SABC News about being prepared for an endeavour aimed at saving lives.
“It’s a very serious thing. I am very happy to participate and contribute towards this. We are very concerned about this COVID-19. So, I am honoured,” says of the participants.
Principal Investigator for the vaccine trial at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital Anthonet Koen says even though they have enrolled 2 000 participants, half of them will get the real vaccine. “We reiterate this when we enroll patients.”