California firms launch trials of COVID shot they hope will protect against South African variant


South Africa has approved clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate designed to protect against variants of the coronavirus.

Last week, the country’s Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) granted authorization to two biotechnology companies based in California, ImmunityBio and NantKwest, to begin Phase I clinical trials.

Their candidate, called the hAd5 T-cell vaccine, targets two parts of the virus: the spike (S) protein and the nucleocapsid (N) protein,

The S protein is on the outside of the virus and is more prone to mutations while the N protein is more stable and less likely to mutate.

Researchers hope the inoculation will help protect against variants like the ones that emerged in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, which have been shown to lower the efficacy of vaccines compared to the original strains.   

South Africa is beginning clinical trials of a vaccine developed by two biotechnology companies based in California. Their vaccine targets two parts of the virus: the spike protein, more prone to mutations and the nucleocapsid protein, which is less prone…

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