Oxford Vaccine: South African volunteers ready for trial despite reported problem
London, Sep. 10, 2020 (AltAfrica)-South African volunteers in AstraZeneca’s global human trials of the potential Covid-19 vaccine paused on Tuesday due to an unexplained illness suffered by one of its participants have said they are not concerned about the news.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the AstraZeneca drug – which is being developed by Oxford University – is the world’s leading and most advanced candidate vaccine.
Around 2,000 volunteers have been participating in the trial in South Africa, but it is set to be on hold for a while until this participant’s illness is justified.
A 27-year-old female participant who has been a part of the trial since July said she hadn’t been personally told about its suspension, but she is not worried about the unexplained illness since she hasn’t developed any symptoms.
Another participant aged 32 said: “It doesn’t make me feel afraid particularly since my own experience hasn’t yet seen me suffer any negative side effects. I totally understand and respect the need for extreme caution and the following of strict process, so I appreciate the Oxford trial’s honesty about this matter”.
Another participant, 58-year old Aslam Dasoo, who is a medical doctor and convener of a healthcare advocacy group, said he was not concerned as the pause was routine.
“The race for a vaccine is unparalleled in history and does amplify issues that do come up, like this, beyond what it would normally do in any conventional trial,” said Dasoo, who has lost people close to him due to COVID-19
Nkuna, a mother of a toddler who lives in Diepkloof in Johannesburg’s Soweto township, said she was aware of the risks of the trial but hoped her participation could help lead to a potentially lifesaving vaccine.
Her family and friends objected to her taking part however, fearing she could get the virus, which has infected more than 27.6 million people and killed over 890,000 globally.
“I said I am willing to give it a try,” Nkuna said, admitting that the fear that she could get COVID-19 and possibly lose her life still grips her sometimes.
“I wanted to be part of the solution, I want to save the world because (COVID-19) is destroying people,” she said. “So many people have died, this COVID is destroying the lives of people.”
Testing of new medical interventions in Africa is often controversial. After the continent’s first COVID-19 trial was announced, anti-vaccine activists protested against Africans being used as test subjects
South Africa has been the worst-hit African nation in the pandemic, and the fifth globally, with a caseload of more than 640,000 infections and over 15,000 deaths