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S. Africa higher education department invests 4.5 mln USD in COVID-19 research

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South Africa’s Higher Education, Science and Innovation Department has invested around 68.8 million rand (4.5 million United States dollars) towards COVID-19 research in the areas of diagnostics, vaccines and epidemiology, Minister Blade Nzimande revealed on Monday at a press briefing.

“The threat of future pandemics, has thrust the country’s ability to develop and manufacture vaccines locally into the spotlight,” he said.

He said there were two studies currently underway on COVID-19 vaccine.

“The first is a study on plant-based manufacturing of antibodies for COVID-19, which aims to facilitate the rapid development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, therapeutic antibodies and diagnostic reagents utilizing various expression platforms for advancing the production of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates and reagents,” he said.

“The second is a ChAdOx1-nCOV-19 vaccine trial. In partnership with the South African Medical Research Council, the Department is co-funding a study, led by the University of the Witwatersrand, aimed at assessing the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate (ChAdOx1 SARS-CoV-2) in South African adults living without HIV, as well as safety and immunogenicity in a small cohort of adults living with HIV.”

The vaccine was developed at the Oxford University Jenner Institute, in collaboration with AstraZeneca.

Nzimande said the results indicate that the vaccine is at least 62 percent effective when given in two full-strength doses.

(XINHUA)

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