The Kenya Medical Research Institute is ready to begin Covid-19 vaccine trials.

Kemri director general Kombe Yeri said the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine trials will begin with a smaller number of volunteers.

“The trial team at Kemri has received the internal institutional approvals from the scientific ethics review committee, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation and is currently awaiting approvals from the relevant local approving authorities at the study sites. We will start with 40 participants who will volunteer to get the vaccine and later scale it up depending on the response,” Yeri said.

He spoke at the Kemri Kilifi centre on Thursday when he hosted the Parliamentary Committee on Health.

Kemri is spearheading the trials in Kenya through a collaboration with the University of Oxford.

Professor George Warimwe, a researcher at Kemri said the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine is at phase 3 of development.

The vaccine was developed from a modification of Adenovirus which causes a mild flu amongst chimpanzees.

Warimwe said the modification of the Adenovirus is to make sure it does not cause disease to human beings.

“Then researchers carefully extract a component of genetic material from a Covid-19 virus and inserted into the genetic material of the Adenovirus.

The specific component stimulates the human body immune response. A similar approach was used to make the Ebola vaccine that controlled the epidemic in West Africa,” Warimwe said.

Warimwe said some of the 40 volunteers will receive the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine while the other group will receive rabies vaccine. Researchers will use the rabies vaccine for the control group.

Control groups enable researchers to compare how well the vaccine works against the substance that does not offer any protection at all against Covid-19.

Source: The Star

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