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2021/07/282021/07/05 11:48 AM

A few days before the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) hands over its report to President Cyril Ramaphosa on the Digital Vibes tender, there are reports that Dr Zweli Mkhize, the health minister who is currently on special leave, put pressure on department officials to issue it.

A weekend newspaper reported that Mkhize allegedly “pressured” departmental officials to award the controversial R150 million tender to the company owned by Taheera Mather and Naadhira Mitha, who are alleged to be friends of Mkhize and his family.
2021/07/272021/07/05 11:46 AM

Science can be a strange beast at times: But the latest pandemic developments in South Africa may reopen a door for the use of AstraZeneca vaccines.

The AstraZeneca rollercoaster is firing itself up for another journey: After being dismissed as ‘ineffective’ against the previous strain of COVID-19 that dominated infections in SA, the Oxford-produced jab may soon find itself being brought back in from the cold – and it’s all thanks to our rapidly-changing coronavirus landscape.
2021/07/092021/07/12 11:24 AM

The latest Nids-Cram survey of Covid-19 impacts also reveals very high levels of depression. It reveals South Africa’s economic recovery is K-shaped — or highly unequal.
South Africans appear to be among the most vaccine-enthusiastic people on Earth. In the latest Nids-Cram survey out today, 8 July, almost 80% of those surveyed said they would accept a vaccine.
2021/07/092021/07/12 11:25 AM

South Africa's Covid-19 vaccine rollout is being constrained by site closures over weekends. This is set to change on 1 August, with the department of health announcing that public vaccination sites will operate on Saturdays and Sundays, with the aim to reach 300,000 people a day.

South Africa's vaccine rollout, which aims to reach 67% of the population before May 2022, is behind target. Disruptions to the mass immunisation programme have resulted in regulatory delays and supply constraints. And while these issues have been overcome – increasing the uptake to its highest levels in recent days – the country's inability to keep momentum over the weekend has added further pressure to the 2022 deadline.
2021/07/092021/07/12 11:30 AM

Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has announced a major boost to South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination plans, with vaccines now being made available to more age groups and on weekends.

In a media briefing on Friday morning (9 July), Kubayi-Ngubane said that her department held talks with Treasury this week around funding for human capital to allow for vaccinations on weekends, with finances now secured. She said that the start date for weekend vaccinations will be around 1 August.
2021/07/092021/07/12 11:35 AM

Pfizer and BioNTech announced they would seek authorisation for a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to boost its efficacy, as the Delta variant drove devastating outbreaks in Asia and Africa and cases rose again in Europe and the United States.

With the pandemic once again wreaking havoc, Japan banned fans from most Olympic events and placed Tokyo under a virus state of emergency throughout the Games just two weeks before the opening ceremony.
2021/07/092021/07/12 11:36 AM

Early data collected between May 17 and June 29 from Discovery Health’s members, shows both a lower rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection and Covid-related hospital admissions among members who had been vaccinated with one dose of Covid vaccine compared to non-vaccinated members.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, which are given 42 days apart in South Africa. Pfizer’s safety and efficacy trial showed that the jab was 95% efficacious in preventing Covid-19 of any severity in study participants who had not been infected with SARS-CoV-2 before vaccination. Further analysis found the vaccine was 100% efficacious in preventing participants from developing severe disease, as defined by the US government’s Centers for Disease Control.
2021/07/082021/07/12 11:16 AM

One of the world’s fastest pace of deaths from Covid-19 infections hasn’t been able to trounce widespread hesitancy over vaccines in South Africa.

Deaths from the virus in the country rose 72% week-on-week as of Monday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, the fifth-fastest worldwide and behind only Zimbabwe on the continent. Yet a lack of communication coupled with anti-vaccine propaganda may be responsible for daily doses languishing almost 50% below President Cyril Ramaphosa’s target, health experts have warned.
2021/07/082021/07/12 11:17 AM

A growing proportion of SA adults say they are willing to get a coronavirus vaccine if one is offered to them, according to the latest round of the NIDS-CRAM

A growing proportion of SA adults say they are willing to get a coronavirus vaccine if one is offered to them, reflecting increasing confidence in the shots as the country’s inoculation drive gets under way, according to the latest round of a large national study that has been running since shortly after the pandemic began.
2021/07/082021/07/12 11:19 AM

There was a discernible shift towards vaccine acceptance in April and May compared with the preceding two months, according to the latest findings from the NIDS-CRAM survey.

“Almost half (47%) of those who ‘disagreed strongly or somewhat or did not know’ in February or March 2021 subsequently changed their minds over the following two months and either had been vaccinated or agreed to be vaccinated when asked again in April or May,” wrote Stellenbosch University’s Professor Ronelle Burger and colleagues in a paper published with the new data. The paper has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
2021/07/082021/07/12 11:22 AM

The latest round of data from the Nids-Cram survey shows the ruinous effect the Covid pandemic has had on schooling, food security and equality. The fact that SA is an estimated 1.3-million vaccine doses behind schedule — simply because it doesn’t vaccinate on weekends — only prolongs the devastation

SA is in a race against time. As Covid waves come and go, and new variants emerge, it is now clearer than ever that there is only one route out of the mess we find ourselves in, and that is vaccination. On that front, there is both good news and bad.
2021/07/062021/07/12 11:27 AM

Pragmatism trumps equity in certain travel categories

A senior health department official has defended its decision to enable special categories of people to apply for the Covid-19 vaccination ahead of schedule, saying it is aimed at assisting those who need to travel overseas for non-leisure reasons.
2021/07/052021/07/12 11:20 AM

South Africa’s department of health (DOH) believes the Covid-19 vaccination programme will run more efficiently once lower age groups are authorised to receive their shots.

As the country kicks off vaccinations for people aged 50 and above, more than 500,000 have registered on the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) since the portal opened for that demographic last Thursday.
2021/07/052021/07/12 11:31 AM

The approval of the CoronaVac vaccine by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has been welcomed by the national Health Department.

The department said it presented a turning point and much-needed relief for the country’s vaccination roll-out programme.
2021/07/052021/07/12 11:32 AM

With just over three million people receiving their Covid-19 vaccines, South Africa is set to begin the roll-out of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine. Manufactured in China, the Sinovac vaccine is the third vaccine to be administered in the country. The inoculation programmes with the other two vaccines, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, have already kicked off.

All three vaccines have been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).
2021/07/032021/07/12 11:33 AM

South African regulators have approved Sinovac Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine, the first shot developed for the disease by a Chinese company to be sanctioned locally.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority backed the double-dose CoronaVac candidate made by Sinovac’s Life Sciences unit with conditions, according to a statement on Saturday. Those include satisfactory results of ongoing studies and periodic safety updates, SAHPRA said.
2021/07/022021/07/05 11:39 AM

Despite concerns over the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19, which has spread to 85 countries and has become the dominant strain in Gauteng province, the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines remain effective, according to the limited data available.

The significant increase in Covid-19 infections in Gauteng has been largely driven by the Delta variant, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed this week.
2021/07/022021/07/05 11:39 AM

The organisation says the variant is dominant in South Africa, and was detected in 97% of samples sequenced in Uganda and 79% of samples sequenced in the DRC.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Delta variant is fueling an aggressive third wave of COVID-19 in Africa.
2021/07/012021/07/05 11:41 AM

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said on Thursday that it was at an advanced stage of evaluating the CoronaVac vaccine, manufactured by Sinovac.

Sahpra CEO Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said the process of assessing and approving vaccines was rigorous and “intricate”.
2021/07/012021/07/05 11:42 AM

Craig Comrie, chief executive of medical aid Profmed, is calling for greater private sector involvement in the country’s vaccination rollout.

This follows a similar call from Shoprite chief executive Pieter Engelbrecht this week, who said that the group was ready to roll out its own private vaccine plan for its 140,000 workers.
2021/07/012021/07/05 11:50 AM

As SA’s hospitals buckle under the strain of Covid, debates around NHI continue. Is this yet another talk-shop that will go nowhere? And is it taking focus away from more immediate issues plaguing the health sector?

As doctors struggle to treat a soaring number of patients during the Covid third wave and hospitals go up in flames, medical groups have been presenting their input on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill to parliament.
2021/07/012021/07/05 11:51 AM

The Free Market Foundation (FMF) has warned that the government’s planned move to a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme will place tremendous strain on already struggling taxpayers.

In a presentation to parliament this week, the think tank said that the public sector currently spends around R4,500 on uninsured persons every year.
2021/06/302021/07/05 11:37 AM

The Covid-19 Delta variant is increasingly becoming the dominant variant in South Africa with the greatest prevalence in Gauteng.

The variant, first detected in India at the end of March, was detected in 45% of the nationally sequenced Covid-19 specimens in June. In Gauteng, the Delta variant accounts for 53% of sequenced specimens.
2021/06/302021/07/05 11:52 AM

With the government running out of money and insufficient technical expertise, the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) will not be the silver bullet the government is hoping will fix the country's flawed healthcare system.

Funding, resources, and corruption were the top issues raised during Tuesday's parliamentary public hearings on the NHI.
2021/06/282021/07/05 11:36 AM

South Africa has now increased its lockdown restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of a new variant, which has now been detected in five provinces, and could begin to dominate the country’s epidemic.

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa raised the country’s alert level to adjusted level 4. The new restrictions prohibit all gatherings, bans the sale of alcohol, limits travel in and out of Gauteng and requires schools to close down. The country will remain at this lockdown level for the next two weeks, at which point the measures will be re-assessed.
2021/06/252021/06/28 09:46 AM

The EFF will take to the streets in Pretoria today to demand vaccines.

The party is marching to the offices of the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) in Pretoria.
2021/06/252021/06/28 09:48 AM

Limpopo is leading South Africa's Covid-19 vaccination rollout in terms of doses administered as a percentage of the province's adult population and its effective registration of elderly residents. The province – which also happens to be the country's poorest and most rural – believes it could be the first to achieve herd immunity if it can maintain a steady supply of jabs.

Limpopo has the highest percentage of adults living below the upper-bound poverty line (UBPL) in the country, according to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). It also has the highest rate of multidimensional poverty among children, according to StatsSA's 2020 report on Child Poverty.
2021/06/252021/06/28 09:50 AM

Gauteng premier David Makhura says that government will begin opening up Covid-19 vaccine registrations to people under 60.

Speaking in a provincial budgetary address, Makhura said that from next week the government will start with the registration and vaccination of 50-59-year-olds.
2021/06/242021/06/28 09:56 AM

The US Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday it will add a warning about rare cases of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults to fact sheets for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory groups, meeting to discuss reported cases of the heart condition after vaccination, found the risk in adolescents and young adults is likely linked to the vaccines, but that the benefits of the shots appeared to clearly outweigh the risk.
2021/06/242021/06/28 09:57 AM

South Africa’s health regulator said on Wednesday it had received documentation for China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine and will evaluate the data to assess the efficacy of the shot.

Now in the grip of a third wave of infections, South Africa is inoculating its population with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines, but the rollout has been slow partly due to setbacks in supply.
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