Kenya vaccinates 40 volunteers in second African trial of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine
London, Oct. 31, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Kenya has kicked off the clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
The vaccine has been developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca. Kenya becomes the second African country to trial the vaccine after South Africa.
In a statement on Friday, the Kenya Medical Research Institute confirmed that the trial team has vaccinated its first volunteers.
This is after receiving the necessary regulatory and ethical approvals, as well as the national ministry of health, and a go-ahead by the Kilifi county.
The trial will be hosted at Kemri at its Kilifi-based Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, a longstanding collaboration between the institute, University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust in the UK.
The study plans to evaluate whether the vaccine is safe, effective and elicits good immune responses in adults in Kenya aged 18 years and above.
The trial in Kenya will initially involve 40 frontline workers in Kilifi County.
Once the vaccine safety is confirmed, a further 360 volunteers will be recruited with possible expansion of the trial to Mombasa county.
“Vaccines which work in one population do not necessarily work in all populations; this has been witnessed in the case of vaccines against malaria, rotavirus and Ebola,” the statement says.
“To ensure that Kenyans can benefit from the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine if it proves to be successful, it is important to assess its performance among Kenyan volunteers.”
The vaccine is currently under evaluation in several countries including the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
According to Kemri, the vaccine trial volunteers will be monitored over a period of 12 months to assess their health, any vaccine side-effects and how their bodies develop immunity in response to the vaccine.
The vaccine was made by incorporating genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 virus into the ChAdOx1 adenovirus vaccine platform that has a well-established track record in terms of its ability to safely elicit immune responses in humans when used for other diseases.
More than 10,000 volunteers have so far been immunised across the global trial sites and the vaccine found to be well tolerated.
“For this reason, the Kemri expressed an interest to evaluate the vaccine in Kenya, leveraging the institute’s well-established capacity in the conduct of clinical trials in Africa and long-standing collaboration with the University of Oxford.”
It adds: “For instance, the institute has been involved in pre-clinical vaccine development, first-in-human trials, as well as early and late-stage evaluation of vaccine candidates against malaria, Ebola, shigella, yellow fever and pneumonia.”