Province’s sec­ond vac­cine trial un­der way

Cape Argus - - METRO - SHAKIRAH THEBUS shakirah.the­

THE sec­ond Covid-19 vac­cine trial is ex­pected to com­mence to­day at Tyger­berg Hos­pi­tal. There are now two sites in the West­ern Cape, with the other al­ready ac­tive at Groote Schuur Hos­pi­tal, and five sites in Gaut­eng.

South Africa an­nounced in late June that the coun­try would be join­ing the global com­mu­nity in the search for a Covid-19 vac­cine with the Univer­sity of Ox­ford and Ox­ford Jen­ner In­sti­tute.

Over­see­ing the trial sites, Sci­en­tific Co-or­di­na­tor at African Lead­er­ship Ini­tia­tive for Vac­ci­nol­ogy Ex­per­tise (ALIVE), Clare Cut­land, said more than 1 200 vol­un­teers have been screened and 754 par­tic­i­pants vac­ci­nated in the tri­als so far. The sites are phys­i­cally in the hos­pi­tal grounds but run by re­search units af­fil­i­ated to UCT and Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity, she said.

Yes­ter­day, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) said sev­eral Covid-19 vac­cines were cur­rently in phase three of clin­i­cal tri­als. WHO Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus said: “We all hope to have ef­fec­tive vac­cines that help pre­vent peo­ple from in­fec­tion. How­ever, there is no sil­ver bul­let at the mo­ment and there might never be. For now, stop­ping out­breaks comes down to the ba­sics.”

This in­cludes test­ing of sus­pected Covid cases, iso­la­tion and treat­ment of con­firmed cases and track and trac­ing of close con­tacts for quar­an­tine.

Chair in So­cial Se­cu­rity Sys­tems Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Man­age­ment Stud­ies at Wits School of Gov­er­nance, Alex van den Heever, said the coun­try should not as­sume that there would be a vac­cine be­fore mid-2021.

“There are some pos­si­bil­i­ties that it could be ear­lier, but it is bet­ter to err on the side of cau­tion for now,” he said.

Al­though the West­ern Cape is see­ing a sta­bil­i­sa­tion in terms of re­ported cases and deaths, some other prov­inces are un­der sub­stan­tial pres­sure.

“The high lev­els of in­fec­tion re­late prin­ci­pally to the op­por­tu­ni­ties for su­per­spread­ing – work­places, shop­ping cen­tres, bulk trans­port and fu­ner­als. Good progress has been made in pro­tect­ing some of these spa­ces, but the gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have some of its pri­or­i­ties wrong. Taxis were al­lowed to go to 100%, but failed dis­mally to en­force open windows. It banned al­co­hol and to­bacco sales, but failed to cur­tail the num­ber of fu­neral-go­ers.”

Prin­ci­pal pathol­o­gist in the Med­i­cal Virol­ogy divi­sion at UCT and the Na­tional Health Lab­o­ra­tory Ser­vice, Marvin Hsiao, said key con­trib­u­tors to ris­ing Covid-19 in­fec­tions were that so­cial dis­tanc­ing, face masks and hand hy­giene have not been ad­e­quately im­ple­mented. “Pan­demic re­sponse is pri­mar­ily about cit­i­zens’ com­mit­ment to each other’s well­ness, trust in the gov­ern­ment poli­cies, poli­cies im­ple­mented based on sci­ence and logic, and their abil­ity to adapt to cir­cum­stances. The SA re­sponse was good in some cat­e­gories but not in oth­ers.”

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