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Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Moderna will start a trial of its Covid-19 vaccine across eight African countries to determine its efficacy in people who are HIV positive. 

The study, which will include about 14,000 volunteers, will serve a dual purpose by also evaluating its effectiveness against the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to a joint statement from the Covid-19 Prevention Network and the SA Medical Research Council. 

It “is the first to specifically evaluate the efficacy of a Covid-19 vaccine in people living with HIV, including those with poorly controlled infections,” the groups said. “In addition to examining the efficacy of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines in people living with HIV, the study investigators seek to identify the optimal regimen for this population.”

Africa accounts for 70% of the world’s HIV infections, with 8.2-million people, or 13%, of SA’s population, infected with the virus that leads to Aids. 

Scientists have hypothesised that the Beta and Omicron variants, both identified first in Southern Africa, may have developed from a person with uncontrolled HIV becoming infected with Covid 19 for a long period, allowing the pathogen to mutate.

The study will take place in SA, Zimbabwe, eSwatini, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda and Kenya. It’s named ubuntu (I am because you are) emphasising the spirit of community.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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