SA records highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in a day

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South Africa has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in a single day. This as the Department of Health reported a further 111 COVID-19 related deaths. This brings the total deaths to 2 102. The number of new cases has increased by 4 518 to 106 108 on Tuesday.

The Western Cape accounts for 78 of the deaths. “One from Mpumalanga; four from KwaZulu Natal; 28 from Eastern Cape and 78 from Western Cape.”

The Department has sent condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones.

The mortality rate is 2% and the number of recoveries is 55 045, which translates to a recovery rate of 51, 9%.




SA COVID-19 vaccine trial begins on Wednesday

Meanwhile, a R150-million large-scale clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine is set to begin in South Africa on Wednesday. This was announced at a virtual media conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand.

The trial titled “South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial” is sponsored by the University of Oxford and the Jenner Institute and funded by the South African Medical Research Council and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus.

2 000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 will participate in the clinical trial in three sites in Gauteng and possibly two others in the Western Cape.

1 950 participants will be HIV negative and 50 HIV positive. The trial will exclude sick, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Leader of the trial is Professor Shabir Madhi of the Vaccinology Department at Wits University, and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit explains, “And the plan in SA is for this vaccine to be evaluated for safety and foremost safety both in individuals with and without HIV.

“In addition to which we want to see how HIV infected and uninfected individuals mount an immune response and particularly in a group without HIV how well the vaccine works in terms of protecting them against developing COVID19 illness,” Madhi adds.

The first participant will be enrolled this week, and they plan to complete enrolment by mid-August this year. Participants will be followed over a 12 month period.

This is the first vaccine clinical trial in Africa, although scores of others are underway globally. Professor Helen Rees, the Chair of the Programme and Policy Committee of the Vaccine Alliance, says vaccine development has been mainly conducted in richer countries and reserved for their citizens.

“This will be the first covid19 vaccine trial in the African region. There are now 268 candidate vaccines in development which is unprecedented worldwide in terms of vaccine development. If we participate in trials there is quite a strong moral obligation for us to be able to say we’ve helped develop what we hope will be a successful vaccine. Therefore we want to ensure that the people in the country where it was developed and the region where it was developed have access to those vaccines,” says Prof Rees.

In the video below, experts explain how the vaccine trial will work: 

The South African Medical Research Council, which has funded the vaccine trial, says this is one of three vaccine trials that will start in South Africa this year.

President and Chief Executive Officer at the SA Medical Research Council, Professor Glenda Gray, says, “We hope that not only one vaccine will be successful. We need five or six vaccines to be successful to make sure that we can scale up to the billions of doses that we need at the global level. And also why it’s important for SA to be involved in not only one, but many efficacy studies. Because we know exactly how we managed it in SA and the regulatory authorities will have had experience with the vaccine and will make it easier for it to license. Because if we are involved in efficacy studies, that gives us first (sic) in the queue to access afterwards as well.”

The Health Department has congratulated local scientists who will conduct the ground-breaking world-class research.

Director General in the Health Department is Doctor Sandile Buthelezi says, “We are very proud that SA again has been placed in the centre stage in leading in science. As the department, we are always saying SA must always lead from the front. There would have been no better time than today to actually launch this vaccine trial as the country has reached a landmark more than 100 000 infections which we recorded last night and we’ve also reached high levels of deaths in the country.”

Madhi says if the trial proves to be unsafe and has a high number of infections at a specific time, they will not hesitate to terminate the study. The success of the vaccine might only be determined by the end of 2021.

Unpacking SA’s COVID-19 vaccine trial with Professor Martin Veller: