JOHANNESBURG — Fifteen clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines are underway across the African continent, according to a comment published in the journal Nature by Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Five trials are occurring in South Africa and four in Egypt, with a single trial each in Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
African nations have teamed up to combat the pandemic, with painful memories of millions of Africans dying in the decade it took for affordable HIV drugs to become available on the continent.
“Africa has ended up at the end of the queue every time” in the race for disease therapies, the Nature comment said. But COVID-19 has jolted the African Union into jointly pursuing vaccine trials and even vaccine manufacturing.
The Africa CDC estimates the continent will need 1.5 billion vaccine doses, enough to give 60% of the population the two doses likely required. Vaccines and delivery could cost up to $10 billion, and delivery across the vast continent will be a major challenge.
The Nature comment indicates that authorities are willing to partner with beverage companies, noting that “refrigerated bottles of Coca-Cola are available in even the remotest areas of Africa.”