The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has launched a Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial (CONCVACT).

This comes as a result of a virtual conference on Africa’s Leadership Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access, held last month.

Africa CDC briefed the media on the continent’s latest COVID-19 statistics on Thursday.

The health Agency’s Director, Dr. John Nkengasong says, “The African Union has established through the African CDC a consortium for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in aggregation convert CONCVACT oversee vaccine trials on the continent, this is very important. The spirit of this consortium is that it brings together all the expertise that exist on the continent, so that we can act in a coordinated manner to ensure that vaccine trials are conducted appropriately on the continent and the consortium will also allow us to engage with vaccination manufacturers across the world to identify those leading candidates that can go into clinical trials in their continents.”

CONCVACT will be co-chaired by Dr Salim Abdool Karim, Head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee for COVID-19 in South Africa; Dr Samba Sow, Director-General for Center for Vaccine Development of Mali; and Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

Other members of the consortium will include representatives of key organizations supporting clinical trials on the continent, including the World Health Organisation, the Africa Academy of Sciences’ Clinical Trials Community, Institute Pasteur, African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, African Medicines Agency, NEPAD, and others.

In the video below Dr, Nkengasong briefs the media:

African countries urged to undertake vaccine trials

The importance of undertaking clinical trials for a vaccine in Africa has dominated discussions at a webinar about COVID-19 and vaccine development on the continent.

Concerns have previously been raised by members of the public about plans to conduct vaccine trials in Africa even though the continent has not been as severely affected by COVID-19 as Europe and America.

However, health experts advise that African participation in such studies is beneficial for the continent and its people.

Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University in South Africa, Shabir Madhi, who is the technical leader of the first and only COVID-19 trial conducted in South Africa and the continent, says many life-saving vaccines have been introduced to low and middle-income countries five to 20 years after they were first available in high-income countries.

“If anything the criticism right now shouldn’t be about possibly using Africans as guinea pigs, we need to understand that less than 2.5% of all clinical trials that are done globally are done in Africa, which constitutes 17% of the world population. If anything, there aren’t enough clinical trials being done in Africa to understand how therapeutics including vaccines work on the African context because there’s very little financial incentive on the part of the industry to conduct these sorts of studies in Africa.”-Additional reporting by Thabile Mbhele