Western Cape BCG COVID-19 Vaccine Trail – Under Fire

Article by: Natalie Müller

Many may know the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine as one of the world’s oldest and most trusted immunisations.

The Vaccine has been recommended as a possible solution towards the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

In the Western Cape province clinical trials to test the effectiveness of the vaccine, have begun. Tests have been conducted on healthcare workers first.

head of business development and marketing at a clinical research organisation called Task said in a statement “We vaccinated the first participant this morning,”

On the other hand labour unions including Cosatu representatives, as well as local and international advocacy groups, are calling for the trial to be immediately stopped, citing concerns about the study’s lack of transparency and community engagement.

It has emerged that organisations such as South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign, unions and theVaccine Advocacy Resource Group (Varg) are calling for the trial to be suspended, emphasising that researchers have not provided substantial information on how community consultation was done around the study.

Trials started at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, where BCG booster shots were administered to 250 health-care workers, while another 250 received a dummy formula or placebo.

“There are observations that this BCG vaccine does something to the immune system that we don’t really understand,” said TASK founder Professor Andreas Diacon.

Other clinical companies such as Johnson & Johnson have also reported that they are in the process of developing a Covid-19 Vaccine , confirming that clinical trials of the vaccine are currently underway.

J&J began developing their vaccine in January, using the same technologies they used to make their experimental Ebola vaccine rolled out in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2019.

They had originally planned to begin human trials for their potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in September, but will now start in the second half of July. According to J&J Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels.

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