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Africa's First COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Starting

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

JOHANNESBURG — Researchers in South Africa say the first COVID-19 vaccine trial on the African continent is set to get underway on Wednesday.

The University of the Witwatersrand says the vaccine developed by University of Oxford researchers is already being evaluated in a large trial in the UK and a similar trial is beginning in Brazil.

The announcement came hours after South Africa reported that total coronavirus cases in the country surpassed 100,000 as of Tuesday. South Africa accounts for almost one-third of the infections on the African continent.

The South Africa vaccine trial aims to enroll 2,000 participants. The first are to get vaccinated this week in Gauteng province, home of economic hub Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

Others will be vaccinated in the hot spot of Western Cape province. Shabir Madhi, who leads the trial, said it begins as South Africa enters winter and the flu season and as pressure increases on hospitals.