There is currently no vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus but one will likely be available within the next 18 months, says minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize.

However, South Africa will begin participation in a World Health Organisation vaccine trial in June he said at a South African Medical Association briefing on Thursday (19 March).

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus announced a global Solidarity Trial to jumpstart the search for Covid-19 treatment on Wednesday.

Ghebreyesus explained that multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give the clear, strong evidence needed about which treatments help to save lives.

Therefore WHO and its partners will arrange this study in various countries in which some of these untested treatments are compared with each other.

“This large, international study is designed to generate the robust data we need, to show which treatments are the most effective. We have called this study the Solidarity Trial,” said the director-general.

Many countries have already confirmed that they will join the Solidarity Trial – Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand. Ghebreyesus said he trusts many more countries will join.

Mkhize forecast that the number of South African coronavirus cases will likely surpass 200 on Friday (20 March).

He said that between 60% and 70% of South Africans are likely to contract the virus, however, only about 20% will be seriously ill.

Global cases of coronavirus have reached 245,749, with deaths passing the 10,000 mark (10,036). 88,441 have recovered, but 147,262 remain active, with 7,378 in critical condition. There are currently 150 confirmed cases in South Africa.

Read: 150 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa