The Aurum Institute’s Clinical Research Division is about to start several COVID-19 trials in Tembisa. Thabang Nhloko, Liaison Officer at Aurum, says they will be using a multifaceted approach in all their Covid-19 clinical trials. According to Nhloko, clinical research is a branch of healthcare science that determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, products, and treatment regimens intended for human use.”Right now we’ve got multiple trials and part of them is a vaccine trial. The first one is an observational trial where we are observing individuals who volunteered to be participants. For example, let’s say a person tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday; we will use an acute study. So, we will be observing the natural history of Covid-19 within the acute stage. To know how the immune system reacts to Covid-19 and make sure that it doesn’t become severe,” Nhloko tells The Olifants News.”A second observation trial is a convalescent approach; these are people who are in recovery, or they are in the post isolation stage.
The first vaccine is for our front line workers, as you will recall there was a general concern about the safety of the frontline workers. The vaccine that will be used for them is a baseline vaccine called MMR,” he explains. The MMR vaccine is a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella. The first dose is generally given to children around 9 to 15 months of age.”We thought because kids are less susceptible to Covid-19, it may be because their immune system is induced more than that of an adult. Because most frontline workers are always busy, we go to them and test them. However, if they are close to us they can come to us,” Nhlokosays. He says once a vaccine is administered, the participants are observed for 30 minutes to see their reaction to the vaccine. From there, people can go to Aurum’s platform and use their app which guides them to report reactions to the vaccine, or any other infection they might have. Nhloko says the fourth approach is a vaccine for everyone which is conducted the same way as health workers.
“We want to see if this vaccine can mitigate Covid-19, or reduce the severity of it,” he says. Aurum’s projects and programmes cover a wide spectrum of activities from programmatic implementation and technical assistance for HIV/AIDS and TB prevention, care and treatment services throughout the health system in South Africa, and HIV prevention clinical research studies. Nhloko says another vaccine trial that has been ongoing for three years is for HIV. “We have recruited people for it. They come for periodic visits where we check for HIV, STI, and other illnesses. We are trying to see whether or not this vaccine can prevent HIV,” he says.”We are looking for people in Tembisa who are interested to take part in the Covid-19 trials. Out of those people, not everyone will be eligible for the study. There are eligibility criteria that we use. We will be assessing if the person is in a position to make a sound decision for themselves to partake in this study. And a person is allowed to withdraw any time they feel,” Nhloko concludes.