South African scientists will be monitoring developments in Brazil which is also about to resume a large COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.

Brazil will embark on a study similar to the one which started in South Africa this week, that hopes to effectively respond to the global pandemic. The trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected individuals.

Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, who is also the leader of the vaccine trial in South Africa says while South Africa and Brazil have similarities, the COVID-19 response has been totally different and they are hoping for better outcomes in South Africa.

“South Africa has been much more aggressive than Brazil in terms of trying to slow the rate of transmission of the virus, but these are both complex societies, both Brazil as well as SA. I don’t think it’s a correct thing to make comparisons between countries. It is unfortunate that Brazil seems to be ahead of the curve compared to where we are in SA and we can only hope that what we experience in SA in the next month doesn’t sort of mirror what is happening in Brazil at this point in time,” says Madhi.

While all hopes are for a successful vaccine at the end of the trial, it might be halted midway should challenges emerge. Madhi says an Independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee is watching the trials in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

On Wednesday, South Africa joined various parts of the world in beginning vaccine trials for COVID-19.

The large-scale vaccine trial will see 2000 participants between the ages of 18-65  be enrolled, half will be given the vaccine, while the other half will be administered a placebo.

The trial is funded by the Bill Gates Foundation through its partnership with the South African Medical Research Council.

In this video, the first eight participants in a COVID-19 trial are vaccinated 

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa is 124 590.

1 493 104 tests have been completed in total, of which 33 092 new tests are reported.

A further 48 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: 8 from the Eastern Cape and 40 from the Western Cape.

This brings the total number of deaths to 2 340. The number of recoveries is 64 111 which translates to a recovery rate of 51,5%.

INFOGRAPHIC: South Africa COVID-19 cases