Novavax trials COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa

U.S. drug developer Novavax Inc said on Monday (August 17) that it is starting a mid-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, as the country experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.

The company said in a statement that the trial study will be conducted on about 2,665 healthy adults and will evaluate safety and immunogenicity in about 240 medically stable, HIV-positive adults.

South Africa is the world's fifth worst affected country with 583,653 recorded coronavirus cases and 11,677 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing a $15 million grant towards the clinical trial, the company said.

Novavax said it intends to initiate the Phase 2 portion of this trial in the United States and Australia in the near future and that it would include about 1,500 people.

The U.S. government in July awarded Novavax $1.6 billion to cover testing and manufacturing of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus in the United States with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by January.

Last month, AstraZeneca said late-stage trials of its experimental drug developed in conjunction with Oxford University, are under way in Brazil and South Africa and due to start in the United States, where prevalence is higher.

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