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South Africa to start coronavirus drug testing in May

Approval from health regulating bodies last hurdle before trials can begin

South Africa’s minister of higher education, science and technology has said that the country’s researchers will begin testing treatments for Covid-19 in May.

Blade Nzimande and other government officials hosted a news conference on 26 April about a recent survey of South Africans’ attitudes toward the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have moved pretty fast here. We will be able to start testing as early as next month,” said Nzimande.

He said that those involved in the trials are only waiting for approval from health regulating bodies, and that the trials will involve drugs already used against other diseases like malaria.

This is not the global trial coordinated by the World Health Organization, which is testing a variety of current antiviral treatments and which involves South African researchers.

Nzimande said that no Covid-19 vaccine trials are currently being done by South African researchers alone, but researchers from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the University of Cape Town are involved in international projects producing novel vaccines by expressing them via plants.