Three senior Wits University clinicians join SA's Covid-19 vaccine trial as participants

Senior clinicians in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University have volunteered to participate in South Africa's first Covid-19 vaccine trial at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Senior clinicians in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University have volunteered to participate in South Africa's first Covid-19 vaccine trial at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Daniel Born, Wits University
  • Three senior clinicians at Wits University enrol for SA's first Covid-19 vaccine trial.
  • The participants enrolled on Tuesday at a Soweto trial site.
  • The trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections, which is the virus that causes Covid-19.

Three senior clinicians in the faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University have volunteered to participate in South Africa's first Covid-19 vaccine trial.

The dean of the faculty of Health Sciences at Wits, Professor Martin Veller, nephrologist and research director at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre Dr June Fabian and leading HIV clinician Professor Francois Venter, divisional director of Ezintsha at Wits University, were vaccinated on Tuesday in Soweto after they were screened and found to be eligible.

Senior clinicians in the Faculty of Health Science
Senior clinicians in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University have volunteered to participate in South Africa's first Covid-19 vaccine trial at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Daniel Born, Wits University)
Daniel Born, Wits University

Fabian said her motivation for volunteering was about supporting local scientists in their endeavours to do world-class science.

"I think it's amazing that South Africa is a Covid-19 vaccine trial site and to be a part of that is very amazing.  We must support each other as a Wits community and we must support our colleagues," she said.

Veller said Africa needed to be involved in vaccine development as there was a moral obligation for the continent to be able to access the vaccine once it became available.  

"The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive disruption - in the world - to public health and economies."

"As a consequence, a vaccine is probably the only way to manage in the medium term. We need to get a trial done quickly. Anyone who can enroll, and especially we in the healthcare fraternity who understand the risks, should," he said.

Venter said that he has enough confidence in the science to put himself on the line.

"This collection of Wits Faculty, between them, have first-authored some of the highest-impact medical articles on pandemics. It’s important to demonstrate how urgent and safe these [Covid-19 vaccine] studies are, and I have enough confidence in the science to put myself on the line," Venter explained.

READ | Wits announces SA's first Covid-19 vaccine trial, first participants to be enrolled this week

The trial, which expects to enroll about 2 000 participants aims to find a vaccine that will prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is the virus that causes Covid-19.

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