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2020/11/202020/11/24 07:55 AM

The company says it has the capacity to make 20-million to 30-million vaccines a year, depending on the technology involved

State-backed vaccine developer Biovac is in discussion with several pharmaceutical companies developing Covid-19 vaccines to potentially manufacture shots in SA, CEO Morena Makhoana said on Thursday.
2020/11/192020/11/24 07:53 AM

Government has to sign up to an international financing agreement called Covax to access the shots.

The government’s advisers on coronavirus vaccines have recommended that it sign up to the international financing vehicle Covax under a “committed purchase agreement” that could result in SA initially receiving only enough shots to immunise frontline health-care workers and people in care facilities.
2020/11/24 07:59 AM

Despite delays caused by the coronavirus lockdown, government is making steady progress in its planned implementation of a new National Health Insurance (NHI).

In its annual report presented to parliament on Wednesday, the National Department of Health said that the NHI Bill is currently being considered by parliament and that an official NHI Office can only be established after the bill is passed into law.
2020/11/192020/11/24 08:02 AM

In the immediate run-up to South Africa's first peak in coronavirus infections and deaths attributed to Covid-19, spending by medical schemes declined, new data shows.

In the three months to the end of June, the "net relevant healthcare expenditure" per medical aid beneficiary per month was R1,474, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) said in a summary of the quarterly filings it received from funds.
2020/11/182020/11/24 07:52 AM

Hailed this week as a pandemic game-changer, the new COVID-19 vaccine offered countries that had pre-ordered doses a potential escape from a cycle of lockdowns and new waves of sickness and death.

But while richer nations plan their vaccination programmes through the end of 2021, experts warn that poorer and developing countries face hurdles that could deny billions the first proven protection against the coronavirus.
2020/11/172020/11/24 07:51 AM

Moderna Inc's experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second US drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.

Together with Pfizer Inc's vaccine, which is also more than 90% effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the US could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.
2020/11/162020/11/24 08:00 AM

Acknowledging fears of corruption and maladministration in the proposed National Health Insurance Fund, predicted to receive up to R3-billion a week once it is in operation, the fund’s developer Dr Nicholas Crisp, says they will do all they can to design a corruption-proof system. Though it is never impossible ‘to plunder’, they will try to make it as difficult as possible.

While they cannot exclude the possibility that the massive National Health Insurance Fund — predicted to receive as much as R3-billion a week once it is in operation — will be impossible to “plunder”, they are trying their best to make it extremely difficult to do so, said public health consultant and developer of the National Health Insurance Dr Nicholas Crisp.
2020/11/162020/11/24 08:01 AM

Council for Medical Schemes reports first accumulated deficit in more than a decade.

The cash-strapped medical schemes regulator spent R11.3m in unbudgeted funds on a high-profile probe into allegations of racial profiling by medical schemes and administrators investigating fraud, it emerged last week.
2020/11/152020/11/24 07:56 AM

Don’t pin your hopes on the Covid-19 vaccine announced this week, South Africans have been told.

The chance of SA getting a significant volume of the vaccine in the next few months is “extremely unlikely”, said Wits University professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi. “The most highly optimistic projection is that we’d be fortunate to get any by the end of the second quarter next year.”
2020/11/24 07:58 AM

Stocks opened the week on the front foot on the JSE after US multinational corporation Pfizer and German company BioNTech announced on Monday that their joint vaccine might lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of Covid-19.

Pfizer’s early analysis showed that the vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective and had outperformed expectations in the crucial phase 3 trials.
2020/11/062020/11/10 09:48 AM

Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla says the government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) “will go a long way” to prepare the country for future pandemics.

On Thursday, he told delegates in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) the NHI would remove the division between the public and private sector ensuring a much quicker response to major pandemics like Covid-19.
2020/11/062020/11/10 09:50 AM

Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla has insisted that the government would implement the National Health Insurance and the Covid-19 outbreak has laid a solid foundation for universal health coverage.

The NHI has been in the making for some time after the government announced 10 districts as pilot sites across the country.
2020/11/062020/11/10 09:53 AM

Government says if the National Health Insurance (NHI) had been implemented earlier, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could have been managed in a much better and effective way.

The primary objective of the NHI would be to provide universal access to health care to all South Africans on an equal footing, irrespective of their ability to pay for services.
2020/11/10 10:01 AM

Globally, day surgery hospitals have changed the experience of patients by offering an alternative to acute or conventional hospital surgery. In SA, the concept of day hospitals is gaining popularity — particularly as a result of high hospital costs.

Lee Callakoppen, principal officer of Bonitas Medical Fund, reveals that direct hospital costs were 43% of the total scheme expenditure, according to its hospital dashboard for the full 2019 year. These excluded doctor and allied services while a patient was in hospital.

2020/11/10 09:42 AM

Winde has called for caution and vigilance in the wake of increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the George and Bitou areas of the Garden Route.

The Western Cape premier’s warning comes after holidaymakers were linked to an increase in Covid-19 cases in Bitou, said the provincial health department.
2020/11/10 09:44 AM

The coronavirus pandemic is having a knock-on effect on other vital health services in Africa as countries are forced to redirect already stretched resources, a regional head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.

The continent of more than a 1-billion people has been spared the worst consequences of Covid-19, with relatively lower death rates and infections seen elsewhere.
2020/11/052020/11/10 09:54 AM

The Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) hosted a webinar on “National Health Insurance (NHI) and Covid-19”.  Panellists included Dr Stan Moloabi, Principal Officer at GEMS; Dr Aquina Thulare, Technical Advisor on NHI, Department of Health (DoH) and Dr Nicholas Crisp, Public Health Specialist and now working with the Minister of Health on implementation of the NHI Fund. It was moderated by Michael Avery, Financial journalist and presenter for Business Day TV.

Upsides to the Covid-19 pandemic: parents being able to spend more time with their kids, folks across the globe honing their baking skills, and for the team working on National Health Insurance (NHI), a breakthrough in terms of collaboration.
2020/11/10 09:56 AM

SA operates a two-tiered health-care system: a public sector, which caters for about 80% of the country’s population, and a private sector, which caters for about a fifth of the population, funded primarily by members of either open or restricted medical schemes. The high cost of private medical aid puts it out of reach of most South Africans.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of quality health care. SA’s Covid-19 response showed that the public and private health-care sectors can co-operate. As the country tries to move towards the proposed model of universal health care under National Health Insurance (NHI), the critical issue now is how it will work and be funded. Has the public-private partnership achieved during the Covid-19 pandemic laid the foundation for a successful NHI?
2020/11/052020/11/10 09:58 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped renew respect for community health workers (CHWs) both among other health workers and the communities they serve, public health experts say. But they warn this won’t be enough to put the country’s community health worker programme, which has faced barriers for years, on a more sound footing as workers across the country prepare for a nationwide strike.

Workers demand that they be made permanent employees of provincial health departments — with higher salaries, as well as medical aid and pension benefits — instead of being outsourced to non-profits that pay them stipends or working under temporary provincial health department contracts.
2020/11/042020/11/10 09:04 AM

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has praised Aspen Pharmacare's plans to partner with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture, package and distribute a candidate Covid-19 vaccine locally, once it was successfully registered in the country.

Earlier this week, the pharmaceutical group announced the Covid-19 vaccine would be produced at its existing sterile facility in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
2020/11/10 09:39 AM

The University of Oxford hopes to present late-stage trial results on its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in 2020, though its top scientific investigator cautioned it would still take some time for life to return to normal.

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.2-million people worldwide, shuttered swathes of the global economy and turned normal life upside down for billions of people.
2020/11/042020/11/10 09:46 AM

Opposition MPs said such a decision should only be considered once they had the facts about parliament’s internal capacity to do the job

In a surprise move, MPs voted on Tuesday to rescind their decision to outsource processing the tens of thousands of written submissions received in response to the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

2020/11/032020/11/10 09:02 AM

Africa is in the running to get a Covid-19 vaccine, but there will be only 220 million doses available in the initial stage, said medical experts at a panel discussion on Africa’s response to the pandemic.

African countries need to get involved in Covid-19 vaccine development to ensure sufficient access once a vaccine is developed.
2020/11/032020/11/10 09:27 AM

Agreement will enable drugmaker to use spare manufacturing capacity and bring down overhead costs, says CEO

SA’s biggest pharmaceutical manufacturer, Aspen Pharmacare, has signed a preliminary agreement to produce the candidate Covid-19 vaccine being developed by US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (J&J) at its Port Elizabeth site, it announced on Monday.
2020/11/10 09:38 AM

CureVac's experimental Covid-19 vaccine triggered an immune response in humans, the German biotech firm said on Monday, putting it on track to start mass testing this year as the race to end the pandemic heats up.

“We are very encouraged by the interim phase 1 data,” CEO Franz-Werner Haas said in a statement.
2020/11/10 09:40 AM

Containing Covid-19 requires testing of individuals and isolating those who test positive, together with recent contacts, to prevent further spread and it is therefore critical to ensure that testing is independently verified to assure its accuracy.

Given the urgent need to ramp up testing, a team from the University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits') Centre for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research (CBTBR) has developed a unique “control standard” to undertake this for certain diagnostic testing platforms.
2020/10/232020/10/27 03:03 PM

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has stuck to his guns that the Western Cape recorded a 42% spike in Covid-19 infections, despite Premier Alan Winde disputing this.

Mkhize said a detailed outbreak response was being compiled, after he broke the news on Wednesday night when he tweeted that the Western Cape had experienced a “significant spike”.
2020/10/232020/10/27 03:04 PM

Lester Kiewit asks Dr Saadiq Kariem whether the Western Cape is heading towards a second wave of coronavirus infections.

With much talk of a second wave of coronavirus in Europe, Cape Talk's Lester Kiewit asks the Western Cape Department of Health's senior doctor whether we're in danger of a similar resurgence.
2020/10/232020/10/27 03:06 PM

In recent days, health minister Zweli Mkhize has warned about a marked increase in new Covid-19 infections as a result of declining adherence to measures such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand washing. The United States and many western European countries are experiencing a dramatic resurgence, often called a ‘second wave’, of the coronavirus.

Does this mean a second wave is inevitable in South Africa?

In South Africa, the possibility of such a resurgence has seemingly justified the extension of the powers of the National Covid-19 Command Council (NCCC), under the legal framework of the National Disaster Management Act.
2020/10/232020/10/27 03:07 PM

Is it time to stop panicking about this pandemic?

Global media, including our own, continue to fixate on the headline number of cases, but not as much coverage is given to what the death rates or hospitalisation numbers will look like in any ’second wave’.
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