On Wednesday, residents in South Africa and Brazil volunteered to begin the testing of a COVID-19 vaccination trial developed by the University of Oxford in Britain.
The trials are starting in South Africa because it is being said that the country was responsible for nearly one-third of the continent’s positive cases.
Although the continent of Africa as a whole was one of the last places to get hit by the pandemic, health officials are saying that numbers are now beginning to spike.
Sponsored by Lemann Foundation, the trial in Brazil will assess the vaccine candidate in 2,000 health workers in Sao Paulo and 1,000 people in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approved trials of the vaccine earlier this month. Researchers expect to launch the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this year.
“The pandemic was delayed in Africa but is picking up speed very quickly,” John Nkengasongthe chief of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. “Unless we act now, Africa is at risk of being left behind on the global vaccine.”
There are now 325,000 active cases being reported across the entire continent, with the first one being reported on February 14. There is still a lack of testing options and medical supplies available to help combat the virus.
Meanwhile, the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa is working with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Vaccine Group to evaluate the vaccine candidate. This marks South Africa’s first trial of a vaccine against Covid-19.
In South Africa, at least 80,000 people have already been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 1,674 have died from COVID-19 since March, when the President declared a state of disaster and national lock-down.
Officials are predicting that the continent will be hit hard and that vaccines should be readily available instead of only being available to those who can afford it.
There is no word on when trials will begin in Brazil. But, the South American country has also been hit hard by the virus in recent months.
In the UK, the vaccine’s trial has already enrolled more than 4,000 participants, with plans to enrol an additional 10,000 volunteers.