COVID-19 Research

Covid-19 Research undertaken at the SAMRC


SAMRC and partners collaborate with industry locals to develop local diagnostics and reagents for COVID-19 testing

Guided by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), the SAMRC together with Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), a DSI entity, jointly ran a request for applications (RFA) to identify suitable projects for funding. Following the peer review, selection and approval processes, the first awards were made within six weeks of release of the RFA, leading to a total of seven grants valued at about R18 million, awarded across a range of organizations, including science councils (the CSIR and Mintek), universities (UCT), and small enterprises.

View the complete article on the SAMRC's News section.

Wits heroes in vaccine trial

Publication: Daily Sun (Limpopo/Mpumalanga/North-West)
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2020


AT LEAST six senior clinicians in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University were screened and found to be eligible to participate in the Covid-19 vaccine trial.

Wits is collaborating with the University of Oxford and The Jenner Institute in the trial. It is led by Wits Professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi.

Read the complete article online.

The first Covid-19 vaccine trial in South Africa begins

The first participants in South Africa's first clinical trial for a vaccine against Covid-19 will be vaccinated this week.

The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial partners' logos

The first clinical trial in South Africa and on the continent for a Covid-19 vaccine was announced today, 23 June 2020, at a virtual press conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits).

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.

In South Africa, at least 80,000 people have already been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 1,674 have died from Covid-19 since March, when the President declared a state of disaster and national lockdown.

By 17 June 2020, South Africa (population: 59 million) contributed to 30% of all diagnosed Covid-19 cases and 23% of all Covid-19 deaths on the African continent (population: 1.34 billion). These statistics emphasise the urgent need for prevention of Covid-19 on the continent. 

Read the complete News Article.

Online portal for registering all research and innovation projects on COVID-19 in South Africa

The SAMRC and DSI have teamed up with the Innovation Bridge to develop and offer an on-line portal for registering all research and innovation projects on COVID-19 in South Africa. The aim is to provide an enabling platform to identify all COVID-19-related research and innovation being conducted or planned in the country, to encourage collaboration, avoid duplication and identify research and development funding needs and gaps.

The site can be accessed from the following link:

SAMRC’S Emerging Science Leaders Harvest Live Coronavirus

Cape Town | The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is home to some of the country’s leading scientists.  With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, science is at the forefront of responding to one of the worst threats to human life since the Spanish Flu, which affected an estimated 500 million people worldwide. Professor Bavesh Kana and Dr Bhavna Gordhan, both recipients of the SAMRC Career Development Award, have harvested live coronavirus as an additional control for validating tests.

Until recently, Prof Kana and his team have been able to successfully generate naked DNA and safe, non-infectious encapsulated controls. The remaining hurdle was the production of the live virus as an additional control for validating tests.

The process involved multiple teams across institutions: Professor Maria Papathanasopoulos and her team comprising Mark Killick and Adriaan Basson (Wits University), they generated the cultured cells required to propagate the virus. Professor Wolfgang Preiser (Stellenbosch University) and Tasnim Suliman (University of the Western Cape), were able to provide the aliquots (a sample for chemical/biological analysis) of the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. Once these reagents were ready, they were taken into the BSL3 lab, led by Prof Kana, for infection and viral propagation. The first harvest of the virus was then provided to Professor Lesley Scott and Lara Noble at Wits University and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) for validation of test kits.

Read the complete Press Release

Effective coverage measurement in maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition: progress, future prospects, and implications for quality health systems

The health and nutrition of mothers, newborns, children and adolescents are under attack by COVID19. WHO and UNICEF viewpoint launches in the Lancet Global Health and calls for more rigorous effective coverage measurement.  Read more.

Report on Weekly Deaths in South Africa (Burden of Disease Research Unit)

In the context of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, it has become essential to track the weekly number of deaths that occur. Deaths recorded on the National Population Register are provided to the SAMRC on a weekly basis and are compared with the number that would be expected based on the historical data from 2018 and 2019. The number of deaths of persons 1-year and older are reported because birth registration was put on hold during lockdown stage 5 affecting the number of infant deaths recorded on this system. The start date of each week is represented on the graph.   

Read more.


SAHPRA and NHLS engagement on PCR tests for COVID-19
Zoom meeting Video and Presentations



Questions and Answers


Professor Debbie Bradshaw from the SAMRC discusses a new report highlighting excess natural deaths during COVID-19

Prof Glenda Gray of the SA Medical Research Council warns that the COVID-19 infections in South Africa will drastically increase in the winter period

Aubrey from Radio 702 speaks to Professor Glenda Gray about the COVID-19 vaccine

Local scientists have joined the global race to restrain the spread of Covid 19

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