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Preliminary work on coronavirus vaccine underway in SA

The University of Cape Town together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as well as the Biological and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa started work on the development of a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus

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With the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus which has had a global impact, disrupting not only economies but proving to be one of the grave challenges the health sector has been faced with.

Taking that there is still no cure or vaccine for the Covid-19 virus, scientists as well as researchers from various parts of the world have started preliminary work on a coronavirus vaccine.

South Africa has started work on the development of a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has said.

This project is being taken on by the University of Cape Town together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as well as the Biological and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa.

In a response following President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s announcement of a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, Nzimande said a number of existing drugs was currently being re-purposed and tested for efficacy, adding current international trials under the co-ordination of the World Health Organisation were being monitored.

Nzimande further added that “Progress is expected in about 18 months” 

“The South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis has been engaging with other data and modelling groups to refine its assumptions to produce an updated model of the spread of the virus.

This is expected to be completed by friday, Nzimande said.

In terms of diagnostic tools, he added it had become urgent to locally manufacture reagents for testing kits.

“These are currently being imported and the lockdown may threaten access to supplies.”

“The Department of Science and Innovation has negotiated the re-purposing of various facilities and labs to respond to the outbreak. The entities in line to assist include Biovac, Centres of Excellence in TB Research, Centre of Proteomic and Genomic Research and Afrigen Bio.”

“Discussions are underway to facilitate accreditation for some of the facilities to produce reagents. The team will be discussing budget requirements this afternoon.”

“For the above projects, the Department of Science and Innovation has already availed R12-million and will redirect an additional R30-million.”

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Universities

Gift of the givers donates ultra-fast Covid-19 test kit to UKZN

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The University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) received ultra-fast Covid-19 test kit valued at $10 000, this was a donation made by the Gift the Givers foundation.

The ILEX Genehacker (testing unit) was donated to the institution after a request by UKZN researchers, professor Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Vernon Ramsuran and Dr. Lona Madurai.

Covid-19 cases within higher education institutions are expected to grow as institutions open up to more students and staff. The University of KwaZulu-Natal has reported the infections of a student and a staff member.Those who came into contact with the student and staff member have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

 “This generous donation will greatly enhance our existing capacity to provide rapid results on Covid-19 tests for both our staff and students. At the same time by extending our testing facility to external stakeholders we are able to generate much needed third-stream income for the university”, acting dean of research in the CHS and a lead researcher in Covid-19 testing platforms at UKZN, Chuturgoon said.

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TUTEH introduces new digital platform for simplified accommodation

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The Tswane University of Technology Enterprise Holdings (TUTEH) launched a digital platform which provides a solution to the accommodation challenges students have been facing.

The new digital platform, TRes was set up to simplify student accommodation and enable accommodation providers to manage all essential aspects of providing student accommodation.

TRes was developed by the TUT Enterprise Holdings.

The platform also includes a unique feature where students can rate the quality of their accommodation daily.

“The design and functionality of the platform aim to create on-going interaction between students, accommodation providers and university administrators in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The core idea behind TRes is that students accommodation is not only big business, but also about human dignity. It is about the total experience of being a university student, which is a critical contributory factor to student performance”, said TUTEH CEO, Nicholas Motsatse.

For more information: www.tres.co.za

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Universities

SA’s first vaccine trial for Covid-19 underway

The University of the Witwatersrand announced that the first clinical trial for a vaccine against Covid-19 begins this week.

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The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) held a virtual press conference today to announce the first clinical trial for a vaccine against Covid-19 which will begin this week.

Participants for the South African Oxford 1 Covid-19 vaccine trial were screened last week and the first participants will be vaccinated this week.

The South African Ox1COV-19 vaccine VIDA- Trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Leading the South African Ox1COV-19 vaccine VIDA- Trial is Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA).

Wits University is working together with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the South African Trial

“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic. As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by Covid-19,” said Madhi

VIDEO: YouTube ( Wits University Official)

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