The Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region is running two COVID-19 vaccine trials to assist combat the pandemic in the country.
The vaccines are the Sputnik Light Vaccine produced by the Gamaleya Institute of Russia and another vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur which is under trial in three Research Centres in Ghana, namely the NHRC, the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR).
Dr Nana Akosua Ansah, the Head of Clinical Science Department of the NHRC in an interview with a team of journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), said about 495 trial participants in the Municipality had undergone clinical trials for the Sputnik Light Vaccine.
“The recruitment started in June 2021, and currently, there are three visits. The first visit is the enrollment visit, the second visit is just a follow up, and the third visit is the final visit which would be conducted from December, 2021.”
She said the study for the Sputnik Light Vaccine was expected to last for six months, explaining that “It is just a single dose, so you receive one shot and afterwards we follow up weekly by phone calls for any adverse effects.”
Dr Ansah said “For this particular study, we are using placebo. Placebo doesn’t contain any active ingredient, it can be normal saline. We give some people vaccines and some placebo.
On the other vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur, she said about 1,800 trial participants would be recruited in stage one and given the monovalent vaccine or placebo while the second stage trial would involve the use of a bivalent vaccine in addition.
She said the NHRC had so far recruited close to 500 trial participants for the stage one and explained that “For the stage one, we are looking at comparing a monovalent vaccine against placebo, and the stage two is a bivalent strain to also cater for the additional strains of COVID-19.
“There are two doses and subsequently all the visits are to follow up and pick adverse effects just to see how safe and efficacious the vaccine is, and stage two will also follow with the same schedule.”
According to her, the NHRC had received very good response from the Municipality “Because this Municipality is used to a lot of research, and this Centre has been in existence for about 35years.
“A lot of the vaccines that we are using, that were tried in Ghana, were also tried here. There is a culture of research here, so we have overwhelming response with people prepared to stay the whole day just to receive the jab,”
Dr Ansah said persons who part took in the study were also encouraged to report to the nearest health facility, call or visit the Clinical Trials Centre of the NHRC for any adverse effects to be recorded and reported to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
When Dr Ansah conducted the team of journalists on a tour of the Clinical Trials Centre of the NHRC, some residents in the Municipality were seated, waiting to be taken through the trial process by professionals at the Centre.
Mr Usman Mujahib, a Biochemistry student at the Clement Kubindiwo (CK) Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences (CKT-UTAS) who was waiting to undergo the trial, said the exercise was good for the scientific community to develop new vaccines to counter the COVID-19 variations.