The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended South Africa for participating in vaccine trials against the coronavirus.

Scientists across the globe are racing to find a vaccine, to combat a virus that has infected over 17 million people worldwide.

South Africa remains among the top five countries with the most infections in the world, having recorded over 482 000 cases and 7812 COVID019-related deaths.

The Head of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus speaking at a South African-hosted virtual National Summit on Science and Innovation’s response to COVID-19 says, “One of the most active areas of innovation is vaccines. Less than eight months into the pandemic, more than 200 vaccine candidates are in development and more than 20 have started human trials. We commend SA for participating in one of those trials in collaboration with the University of Oxford. We must make sure that vaccines diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19 are global public goods, not another reason that more people are left behind.”

In the video below, Dr Ghebreyesus addresses a virtual national conference on COVID-19:

Pharmaceutical-manufacturing technologies

Speaking at the same summit, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says South Africa needs to work towards building strong pharmaceutical-manufacturing technologies to help produce a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Mkhize says, “We need to build a strong base for pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities and new technologies for vaccine production, diagnostic kits for various medical equipment including ventilators, PPEs and others and embracing various new innovations. South African Health Regulatory Authority stands ready to fast-track all applicants to promote the development of local capabilities.”

SA benefits from various international partnerships

Earlier, reading President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech at the summit, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, said the work of the African Union Commission in response to COVID-19 has been impressive, especially its support for the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“South Africa continues to benefit from various international partnerships in the fight against COVID-19, including the BRICS alliance, the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.”

In the video below, Nzimande addresses the Summit: