Covid-19 vaccine possible early next year, but it won’t be free – experts

Twenty-three coronavirus vaccine projects have begun clinical trials . AFP/File/JOEL SAGET

Numerous factors would need to be considered such as the owners of the intellectual property, capacity and the roll-out of the vaccine.

Wits Professor of Vaccinology Shabir Madhi, speaking on Africa’s readiness in developing a Covid-19 vaccine, said government was in talks with the private sector to develop and test different vaccines.

The professor was speaking at a briefing with the World Health Organisation on the development of a vaccine in Africa.

In parts of his address, Madhi said they were currently looking at people aged between 18 and 35 who would participate in the study, to develop a vaccine. These people should be HIV negative. People with HIV are not excluded from the study, he clarified.

South Africa was among the counties which did have some the capacity to manufacture and produce a vaccine, according to Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

Moeti said it was important to emphasize that some countries such as Tunisia, Morocco, Ethiopia and South Africa had some capacity to produce hundreds and millions of doses.

Madhi, noting that different technology intended for different research would provide an array of research throughout Africa, said it was important to highlight that the research conducted was only based on an Oxford preliminary study.

The vector-based approach on a vaccine would be taken, meaning equipping the body with adequate immune defence to provide the best immune response.

On volunteers, for the study, he said their department did not go out looking for volunteers.

“We announce that the study is under way. We go through a stringent process. Participation in the study is quite strenuous. Constant evaluation needs to be done.”

People needed to understand that should the clinical trials be approved and a vaccine identified, access to the vaccine will be delayed until such a time as governments and scientists have approved the approaches.

“Currently, we don’t know if it will work.” He highlights that the current vaccine is being evaluated.

Numerous factors would need to be considered such as the owners of the intellectual property, capacity and the roll-out of the vaccine. Madhi said it was likely that a vaccine would be possible within the first quarter of 2021.

No vaccine will be free to all as funding for the vaccine must be considered. A country like South Africa would need to upfront place a purchase order.

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