Tuesday, 06 April 2021 07:11

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Novavax Inc says participants in its ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials in South Africa and the UK can now receive additional shots, ensuring those who received a placebo can also get the active vaccine.

Allowing volunteers to crossover to the active vaccine offers them an incentive to continue in the trials even when other authorized vaccines are available.

The company said it planned to cross over participants in its ongoing large, late-stage study in the United States and Mexico, for which the company plans to read out initial clinical data during the second quarter.

If authorized for emergency use in the United States, Novavax’s two-shot vaccine would help ramp up ongoing vaccination efforts in the country with currently authorized vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson.

As part of the updated trial design, all participants of the trials in the UK and the U.S. will be offered the chance to receive an additional round of shots, the company said.

Participants who opt to do so will receive two additional doses of either vaccine for those who initially received placebo, or placebo for those who first got vaccine.

All participants will continue to be “blinded” or not know if they got the experimental vaccine or a placebo.

Meanwhile seven provinces recorded zero Covid-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the health department said on Monday evening.

Four deaths were recorded in Gauteng and four in the Free State.

A total of 452 new cases were also recorded from 11 091 tests conducted.

To date South Africa has a total of 1 552 416 cases.

South Africa’s death toll now stands at 52 995. The highest number of deaths have been recorded in the Western Cape with 11 472 followed closely by the Western Cape of 11 363.

South Africa’s recovery rate sits at 95 percent with almost 10 million people have been tested in the past year.

Close to 270 000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.