State-owned power utility Eskom has announced that its interim chairperson Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has been appointed to serve on a 12-member expert panel of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the first Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in the US.
Makgoba also serves as South Africa’s Health Ombud.
He has been invited to serve on the panel of experts by the US government. He will join nine scientists, physicians, ethicists and biostatisticians from the US, as well as two experts from Brazil and the UK.
Members are selected based on their expertise and experience.
The Data and Safety Monitoring Board is responsible for ensuring the safety of participants, the efficacy and the immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine being tested or on trial, and it is the final structure to pronounce on vaccine approval.
The recommendations of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board will have an enormous impact on the overall global response, including South Africa’s response, to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The committee is independent of investigators, organisations, and institutions conducting the vaccine clinical trials. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board has the authority to recommend that a vaccine trial be stopped early should there be concerns of participant safety.
Finding a safe and efficacious vaccine is the ultimate goal, to significantly impact and to change the course of the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused so much devastation and misery to the whole of humankind and the future of the world.
“We are proud that an African scientist associated with Eskom has been given this recognition and are confident that Makgoba will lend his skill to the fight against the pandemic and discharge his scientific expertise for the benefit of all humanity,” the utility says.