Ghanaian researchers progress in testing vaccine for different strains of COVID-19

Ghanaian researchers are at phase-3 clinical trial to assess how efficacious the Sanofi vaccine is in dealing with different strains of COVID-19 at the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) in the Upper East region.

The trial is also researching into how the coronavirus vaccine may affect people with underlying conditions such as hypertension and diabetes including areas surrounding co-morbidity among other key issues.

The Sanofi vaccine trial at the NHRC is also being done at the Kintampo Health Research Centre and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research together with other clinical sites in 16 countries such as Nigeria and Nepal.

The data from the sites would be pooled to test the efficacy of the vaccine in various populations in these countries.

In Ghana some 2000 study participants are being recruited in the three sites to test the two-dose Sanofi vaccine, Dr Patrick Odum Ansah, Acting Director of the NHRC told a team of journalists on a field trip to the NHRC.

The trip, organised in collaboration with the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), is part of a media advocacy aimed at empowering the media to promote health research findings in Ghana with a particular focus on the NHRC.

Dr. Ansah told the journalists that another phase 3 clinical trial on a different COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, which began at the NHRC in June this year and ending in December, saw some 500 people being recruited to take part in the trial.

Unlike the Sanofi vaccine trial, which just began in September this year, the Sputnik V vaccine is a single-dose vaccine and is not looking at co-morbidity issues or different variants of the coronavirus.

Adults recruited for the various COVID vaccine trials are taken through rigorous checks and made to give their consent before participating in the trials.

There is also a standby arrangement and a special ward fitted with various medical equipment and oxygen to deal with any emergency that may arise from the trials after any administration of the vaccine.

This is the first time phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials are taking place in the country and this would provide data for the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghanaian government to make informed decisions for the deployment of these vaccines in the country.

The NHRC is positioning itself and strengthening its structures to sustain its mandate to feed the health sector and with relevant and timely data to inform health policies in the country.

The centre has acquired new chemistry, heamatology and electrolyte analysers together with new vaccine fridges. It is also seeking to invest in solar power generation for its research activities.

By Eunice Menka

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