Image: Wits - University of the Witwatersrand

Wits begins SA’s second Covid-19 vaccine trial

CAPE TOWN- The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) has launched its second Covid-19 vaccine trial in South Africa and began screening participants on Monday.

The clinical trial, led by Professor of Vaccinology Shabir Madhi, will evaluate if the nanoparticle S-protein, in the Covid-19 vaccine, protects against Covid-19 disease in adults aged 18-64-years-old.

According to a press release from Wits, phase 2 of the study will enroll up to 2 904 volunteers, including 240 who are HIV positive, and will evaluate the vaccine candidate’s safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy.

The vaccine candidate, produced by US-based biotech company Novavax, is engineered from the genetic sequence of SARS‑CoV‑2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease.


Madhi, who is the Executive Director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA) at Wits, said that the major motivation for Covid-19 vaccines being evaluated at an early stage in the country is to generate evidence in the African context on how well these vaccines can work.

“This would enable informed decision-making when advocating for the adoption of this vaccine candidate or other Covid-19 vaccines in African countries, once they are shown to be safe and effective. Participating in the clinical development of these vaccines at the outset will assist in advocating for South Africans to be amongst the first in line to access these life-saving vaccines, once they become available.”says Madhi.

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