South Africa has just started the first clinical trial of a vaccine against Covid-19 on the continent. This candidate vaccine has been developed by Oxford University and is already being tested in humans in Great Britain. South Africa is approaching 140,000 detected cases of coronavirus and 2,500 deaths and remains the most affected country in Africa by the pandemic. Last April, a controversy over whether the continent could be used as a guinea pig to test vaccines had sparked a major uproar. But this time, the South African authorities have made it clear that they are volunteers.
The vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is to be tested in 2,000 volunteers in South Africa. A clinical trial is already under way in the UK on 4,000 people. And another study is planned in Brazil on 5,000 people.
The goal is to determine whether this vaccine is effective in different parts of the world and on different populations. Researchers also want to know whether people with AIDS, who are particularly vulnerable, can also be protected. In South Africa, for example, the trial is to include 50 HIV-positive people.
More than 200 coronavirus vaccines are being studied worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with a dozen human clinical trials underway.