The African Union Commission has introduced the new Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial (CONCVACT).

CONCVACT is part of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for tackling Covid-19. The goal is to prevent severe Covid-19 illness and deaths in African Union Member States, reduce social disruption, and minimise the economic consequences of the pandemic.

A vaccine is expected to limit transmission, prevent deaths, and support socio-economic recovery in Africa.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Success in developing and providing access to a safe vaccine requires an innovative and collaborative approach, with significant local manufacturing in Africa.

“We need to support the contribution of African scientists and healthcare professionals. We need to act with urgency.”

CONCVACT plans to secure more than ten late-stage vaccine trials at the earliest via collaborations with global vaccine developers and funders, and African firms that enable clinical studies.

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The consortium hopes to capture the safety and efficacy data of promising vaccine candidates for the African population in order to validate their launch after approval.

It will establish an independent review board for guidance, assistance and oversight of trials, as well as work to increase public awareness on clinical testing in the continent.

African Union Commission Social Affairs Commissioner Amira Elfadil Mohammed said: “There is urgent need for global solidarity, cooperation, and appropriate regulation to ensure equitable access to potential Covid-19 vaccine.

“The African Union will continue to partner with GAVI, WHO and other relevant stakeholders in the development of Covid-19 vaccine.”

Last month, the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa collaborated with the UK’s University of Oxford and the Oxford Vaccine Group to evaluate a Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed at the UK university.

This marks South Africa’s first trial of a vaccine against Covid-19.

If the vaccine trial is successful, Africa expects a Covid-19 vaccine to be available in the first quarter of next year, reported Reuters, citing a University of Witwatersrand professor.