South Africa hosts second Covid-19 vaccine trials in two months
London, August 18, 2020 (AltAfrica)-South Africa is hosting a second covid-19 trials in two months , this time by the United States drug developer Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) which announced on Monday that it had started a mid-stage study of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, as the country experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.
Novavax study is the second Covid-19 trials to be undertaken in South Africa after the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial announced on 23 June, at a virtual press conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits).
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South Africa is the worst hit country in Africa and the fifth worst affected country with 589 886 coronavirus cases and just under 12 000 deaths according to the National Health Ministry
“Because South Africa is experiencing a winter surge of Covid-19 disease, this important Phase 2b clinical trial has the potential to provide an early indication of efficacy,” Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn said.
The trial of Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373, backed by a multi-million Dollar grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was being conducted in two separate groups, one comprising 2 665 healthy volunteers and the other, 240 HIV-positive adults.
“The major motivation for the COVID-19 vaccines being evaluated at an early stage in South Africa is to generate evidence in the African context on how well these vaccines work in settings such as our own,” said Shabir Madhi, M.B.B.C.H., FCPaeds, Ph.D.
“I am pleased to work with Novavax as the principal investigator in this clinical trial, following Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine’s positive Phase 1 data, which provides strong rationale for moving development forward in a larger subset of adults.”
Novavax expects its vaccine, once approved, would be supplied to South Africa through a deal signed earlier this year with the Serum Institute of India to develop and commercialize NVX-CoV2373.
The vaccine candidate is one of nearly 30 globally being tested in human clinical trials.
Early-stage data from a small clinical trial of the vaccine has shown that it produced high levels of virus-fighting antibodies, and the company aims to begin larger studies to obtain regulatory approvals as early as December.
Novavax intends to begin Phase 2 of the small clinical trial in the United States and Australia in the near future and said it would include about 1,500 candidates. It also aims to begin Phase III as soon as late September.
The US government in July awarded Novavax valued over R27bn to cover testing its potential coronavirus vaccine in the United States and manufacturing with the aim of delivering a 100 million doses by January.