The large-scale trial of the vaccine developed at the University of Oxford in Britain is being conducted in South Africa, Britain and Brazil.
South Africa has nearly one-third of Africa’s confirmed cases with more than 106,000, including more than 2,100 deaths. The country late Tuesday reported its biggest one-day death toll of 111.
This is Africa’s first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial and It started on Wednesday. Volunteers received injections, even as officials say the continent of 1.3 billion people cannot be left behind.
The pandemic was delayed in Africa “but is picking up speed very quickly,” the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief John Nkengasong said Wednesday, with a steep increase in the number of cases and deaths.
“Unless we act now, Africa is at risk of being left behind on the global vaccine,” he warned a continental discussion and urged that local manufacturing and scientific expertise play a key role.
Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa all have highly developed clinical trial capabilities, said Salim Abdool Karim, chair of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee for COVID-19.
Many other sub-Saharan African countries also have clinical trial capacity, said Daniel Bausch, director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team.
“We’re not only needing but capable of participating” as the world races for a vaccine, South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.