What's Positive, Problematic on Covid-19 Vaccine Trials in Africa

Scientists are working around the clock to develop and test vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Experts agree that widespread use of safe and effective vaccines will rapidly contain the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing transmission and disease. Globally, COVID-19 vaccine trials are being conducted in all continents, representing all diverse human populations in the world. In Africa, Egypt and South Africa are participating in these trials. Many other countries are also preparing to participate. A key step in the process of any vaccine development is clinical testing, which involves assigning a vaccine or a placebo to human subjects, then evaluating the health effects over a period of time. This testing helps to demonstrate safety in diverse human populations living in different settings, and to determine vaccine efficacy - the ability to prevent infection and disease. The groundbreaking developments offer hope and optimism. But there are still major obstacles ahead, particularly for developing countries. Among these is the fact that at least one of the vaccines showing promise needs to be kept at extremely low temperatures prior to use. This will be a difficult ask for most African countries. In addition, there are concerns about access to the vaccines once manufacturing starts. Among the key concerns is the availability of sufficient vaccine doses to meet the high demand. And then there's the question of affordability. Resources will be urgently needed to procure and distribute COVID-19 vaccines at a rapid pace, writes Benjamin Kagina for The Conversation Africa.


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