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SA plans AstraZeneca trial to assess effect on severe COVID-19

The government’s top COVID-19 vaccine advisers have met to discuss launching a clinical trial of AstraZeneca’s shot, designed to answer key questions about the extent to which the jab protects people from severe disease caused by the new variant dominating transmission in South Africa, reports BusinessLIVE.

“The advice under serious discussion is the idea of rolling out a study to 100,000 (volunteers) so we can look at the impact on hospitalisation,” said Helen Rees, executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute and a member of Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s advisory committee on COVID-19 vaccines.

Rees said the proposed AstraZeneca trial is likely to include people with above-average risk of severe illness who are only likely to be offered a jab in the national immunisation programme in late 2021 or early 2022. All trial participants will receive the vaccine.

Many scientists are hopeful the AstraZeneca shot will protect people from severe illness and death because it uses the same adenovirus vector technology as the vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Novavax. Preliminary phase 3 trial data for both the J&J and Novavax shots showed no hospitalisations or deaths from COVID-19 among vaccine recipients.

Phase 2 includes people over the age of 60, those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes that place them at higher risk of severe illness, essential workers and people living in congregate settings such as prisons and care homes. The last phase targets the remaining adult population.

According to the report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) granted emergency-use approval for AstraZeneca’s shot on Monday, clearing the way for it to be distributed by the international vaccine procurement facility COVAX. This approval is vital for many developing countries, which do not have their own medicine regulators.

The WHO has advised countries to administer the vaccines even in regions where new variants are circulating.


[link url=""]Full BusinessLIVE report (Open access)[/link]



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[link url=""]South Africa’s AstraZeneca vaccine now on ‘half-price’ sale[/link]

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