COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 2,488 Covid-19 cases & AstraZeneca expects Covid-19 vaccine capacity of 200m a month by April

Covid-19 updates

11 February 2021 - 07:23 By TimesLIVE
A paramedic prepares a dose of Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccine before administering it to a health worker at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan on February 11 2021.
A paramedic prepares a dose of Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccine before administering it to a health worker at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan on February 11 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

February 11 2021 - 22:41

SA records 2,488 Covid-19 cases and 237 deaths in 24 hours

SA recorded another 2,488 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to date to 1,484,900.

But it was another day where a low positivity rate — the number of positive results in relation to the number of tests taken — was recorded.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the 2,488 new cases came from 32,265 tests, at a positivity rate of 7.7%.

February 11 2021 - 20:45

Sighs of relief as Cyril Ramaphosa says R350 and TERS grants will be extended

Millions of needy South Africans who were benefiting from the monthly special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350 can breathe a sigh of relief.

This is after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced that the grant would be extended for another three months.

Delivering his state of the nation address, Ramaphosa said: “We have therefore decided to extend the period for the special Covid-19 grant of R350 by a further three months. This has proven to be an effective and efficient short-term measure to reduce the immediate impact on the livelihoods of poor South Africans.”

February 11 2021 - 20:27

Cyril Ramaphosa confirms arrival of 80,000 J&J vaccines next week

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the first batch of 80,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccination doses will arrive in the country next week.

Ramaphosa said further consignments would arrive over the next four weeks, with 500,000 J&J vaccines arriving in the next month. In total, SA had secured 9 million doses of the J&J vaccine, he said.

The president was speaking during his fifth state of the nation address in Cape Town on Thursday night.

Ramaphosa said that an “unrelenting and comprehensive response” to overcome the coronavirus was fundamental to the nation’s recovery. He said all provinces had rollout plans in place as the first vaccines come through.

February 11 2021 - 20:05

Regaining lost time in education a priority, says Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was a priority that the education sector regains the time it lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during his state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday night, Ramaphosa said: “Of the many hardships our people had to experience last year, schooling disruption placed a huge burden on learners, teachers and families. Despite this, they persevered. It is our priority for this year to regain lost time and improve educational outcomes, from the early years through to high school and post-school education and training.”

In his address, Ramaphosa focused on four priorities for the year, which included defeating the coronavirus, accelerating economic recovery, implementing economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and fighting corruption and strengthening the state that has been weakened.

February 11 2021 - 16:38

Scopa wants those who scored from dodgy PPE tenders prosecuted quickly

Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has vowed to prioritise a series of reports by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement investigations.

This is to ensure that those who are implicated are prosecuted speedily.  

The latest report, in which the unit referred 38 cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) involving fraud, corruption and contravening supply chain management policies, was formally tabled before parliament on Wednesday.

“A number of issues emanating from the report require Scopa’s urgent attention and the committee has resolved to prioritise these matters. Scopa is aware that these are ongoing reports, which the SIU will release periodically as their investigation procedure dictates,” said committee spokesperson Faith Ndenze.

February 11 2021 - 16:17

Tanzania experiencing surge in Covid-19 cases, says US

The United States said on Wednesday that Tanzania, whose president has advised citizens to shun coronavirus vaccines, is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases and its healthcare facilities could be quickly overwhelmed.

In a statement, the US embassy in Dar es Salaam said it was "aware of a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases since January".

"The practice of Covid-19 mitigation and prevention measures remains limited ... healthcare facilities in Tanzania can become quickly overwhelmed in a healthcare crisis."

February 11 2021 - 14:49

Kenya says it will move ahead with AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Kenya is going ahead with its plan to inoculate its citizens against Covid-19 using a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, a senior health ministry official said on Thursday, dismissing concerns over its efficacy.

SA paused the rollout of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University following a small clinical trial that showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant dominant in the country.

That move will not deter Kenya, which says it expects to receive 24 million doses of the vaccine beginning this month, said Mercy Mwangangi, the chief administrative secretary at the ministry.

February 11 2021 - 14:35

PODCAST | Prof Madhi on whether you can get reinfected once you've had Covid-19?

Vaccines are the talk of the town, but what about the natural immunity (or lack thereof) enjoyed by those who have suffered through Covid-19?

And what about those who were infected but asymptomatic - do they have any antibodies to speak of?

What about immunity against the new variant if you got sick in the first wave? Is an antibody test even worth getting?

Subscribe for free: iono.fm | Player.fm | Pocket Casts 

February 11 2021 - 14:17

Indian state rejects Bharat Biotech vaccine approved without efficacy data

An opposition-ruled Indian state said on Thursday it had asked the federal government to halt the supply of a home-grown Covid-19 vaccine until its efficacy could be proven in an ongoing late-stage trial.

India, which has reported the world's second-highest number of Covid-19 cases after the US, has vaccinated more than 7 million front-line workers since January 16 using COVAXIN developed by Bharat Biotech as well as a vaccine licensed from AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

So far the federal government has ordered 10 million COVAXIN doses and 21 million AstraZeneca shots, locally made by the Serum Institute of India for low- and middle-income countries.

February 11 2021 - 13:44

England tests record 3m people for Covid in latest week

England's coronavirus test and trace service said on Thursday it had identified 149,317 positive cases in the week to February 3 after a record 3 million people were tested, the highest number ever in a single week.

The service said it had also identified 264,577 contacts of those who had tested positive, resulting in 377,391 people being told to self-isolate.

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 13:31

Oil drops after strong rally as new Covid-19 variants weigh

Oil prices fell on Thursday, paring recent gains, as renewed lockdowns and the emergence of new coronavirus variants weighed on the prospects for a swift demand recovery.

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 13:10

EU close to seal supply deal with Novavax for Covid-19 vaccines

The European Union could sign a supply deal with Novavax this week or next for the U.S. company's Covid-19 vaccine candidate, two EU officials involved in the talks with the firm said.

The EU concluded in December preliminary negotiations with Novavax for the supply of 100 million doses and an option for another 100 million.

"Talks with Novavax have intensified and we aim to agree the contract this week or next," one EU official said.

February 11 2021 - 12:57

Pfizer to apply for covid-19 vaccine registration in Ukraine on Thursday -TV

Pfizer plans to file the registration application for use of its Covid-19 vaccine in Ukraine on Thursday, Ukrainian television quoted a health ministry official as saying.

Ukraine's authorities have said the country expects to receive its first batch of 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in February within the framework of the COVAX programme. 

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 12:55

Hungary to receive 500,000 doses of Chinese Sinopharm's vaccine - PM's chief of staff

Hungary expects to receive 500,000 doses of Chinese Sinopharm's vaccine next week and plans to start vaccinations with them soon, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.

Gergely Gulyas also told a government briefing that Hungary had decided to launch a document proving coronavirus immunity for those who had been inoculated, those who have recovered from the infection and those who take a blood test proving the presence of antibodies. 

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 12:51

AstraZeneca expects Covid-19 vaccine capacity of 200 mln a month by April

AstraZeneca expects to produce more than 100 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine - developed with Oxford University - this month, ramping up to more than 200 million a month by April, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said on Thursday.

Mene Pangalos, head of BioPharmaceuticals R&D at the British drugmaker earlier said the company expects much-anticipated data for the late-stage US trial of its vaccine before the end of March.

A read-out on data is "only weeks away", he said on a media call after release of the company's 2020 results.

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 11:45

Gauteng health promises to pay all intern doctors not paid in January

More than 50 intern and community service doctors who were not paid salaries for January will get their money by February 22, Gauteng's health department said on Thursday.

The SA Medical Association Trade Union raised the alarm on Wednesday, saying it had received reports that at least 48 interns, 14 community service doctors and several doctors under Covid-19 contracts in the province had not been paid.

The union said they worked 40 hours a week and put in more than 80 hours of overtime a month. After not being paid, some did not have money for transport to their workplace or to put food on the table.

February 11 2021 - 11:26

Kenya says it will move ahead with AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Kenya is going ahead with its plan to inoculate its citizens against Covid-19 using a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, a senior ministry of health official said on Thursday, dismissing concerns over its efficacy.

"We are going to continue with AstraZeneca because we are doing our own sequencing and we are comfortable to move forward with it," Mercy Mwangangi, the chief administrative secretary at the ministry, told Reuters. 

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 10:42

Doctors launch interdict to access ivermectin for themselves and patients

A group of South African doctors and medical practitioners has launched an urgent court application seeking wide-ranging orders to enable them to personally use, and prescribe to their patients, ivermectin.

The group of 55 “front-line workers” initially attempted to join other applications seeking similar relief but say those did not address the dire situation faced by doctors and their patients who want effective access to the drug.

They claim that their applications to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), under its “compassionate use programme”, have not been approved and, to their knowledge, none have been so far.

February 11 2021 - 10:24

UK doing everything to ensure people can have summer vacations -minister

The British government is doing "everything we can" to ensure the public can get a summer vacation this year but could not provide certainty on whether or not people should book breaks now, health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

Ministers have faced criticism, including from members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own party, about giving out mixed messages on whether people should arrange summer holidays in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, transport minister Grant Shapps said people should not book vacations either domestically or abroad until more was known about the vaccination programme's success but others, including Johnson given more optimistic messages.

Reuters

February 11 2021 09:16

Mkhize laughs off suggestions chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng 'prayed' the AstraZeneca vaccine away

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has laughed off suggestions that chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng managed to “pray away” the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying the vaccine was not from the devil.

Last year, Mogoeng turned heads when he prayed against vaccines containing “666" and “vaccines of the devil”.

He said his prayer was meant for “every well-meaning Christian” to pray to God to destroy any vaccine that would negatively affect the lives of people.

February 11 2021 09:00

Malaysia offers Covid-19 vaccinations to foreign residents, undocumented migrants

Malaysia will extend its free Covid-19 vaccination programme to all foreigners residing in the country, including students, refugees and undocumented migrants, the government said on Thursday.

The Southeast Asian country is expected to begin its vaccine rollout at the end of this month, aiming to cover at least 80% of its 32 million population within a year.

“A safe environment free from Covid-19 can only be achieved when as many Malaysian residents as possible are immunised,” the government committee on vaccine supply said in a statement.

February 11 2021 - 07:58

Melbourne steps up Covid-19 tests as quarantine hotel cluster rises to 10 cases

Health authorities in Australia's Victoria state ramped up contact tracing and prepared for more mass testing of residents in Melbourne on Thursday as the number of infections in a new Covid-19 cluster linked to a quarantine hotel rose to ten.

More than 22,500 test results were conducted in the past 24 hours in Australia's second most populous city and authorities urged Melbourne's residents to get tested amid fears of community transmission from infected workers at the Holiday Inn in the city.

Two new cases were reported on Thursday, both primary household contacts of Holiday Inn hotel staff, Victoria's state health authority said in a statement. Two cases reported on Wednesday had included a hotel worker and a returned traveller who had exited quarantine on Sunday.

February 11 2021 - 07:50

Zimbabwe purchases 600,000 Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccinations

Zimbabwe has purchased 600,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinopharm, in addition to 200,000 China has donated, its information minister said on Wednesday, adding these were due to arrive in Zimbabwe by the start of March.

Monica Mutsvangwa also said Zimbabwe negotiating with Russia over the procurement of its Sputnik vaccines and was expecting more doses from India and COVAX.

A total of 800,000 Sinopharm doses will be in the country by the start of March, Mutsvangwa said in a video posted on the information ministry's Twitter feed on Wednesday, with aircraft heading to China to collect the shots no later than February 13.

February 11 2021 - 07:44

SA aims to immunise up to 500,000 health workers in J&J study, scientist says

SA aims to immunise between 350,000 and 500,000 health workers with Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine in an “implementation study” to further evaluate the shot, the president of the Medical Research Council said.

Glenda Gray, co-lead investigator on the local leg of a J&J global trial, told Reuters that SA expected to get batches of around 80,000 doses every seven to 14 days for the study, once it is approved.

The implementation study would be aimed at further evaluating J&J's vaccine in the field and would be akin to a phase IIIb study, Gray said. J&J's vaccine has already been tested in the global phase III trial involving more than 40,000 participants including over 6,000 in SA.

February 11 2021 07:17

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 10,237 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 10,237 to 2,310,233, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 666 to 63,635, the tally showed.

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 07:14

US CDC says fully vaccinated people need not quarantine after Covid-19 exposure

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday people who have been given full doses of the coronavirus vaccine no longer need to quarantine after an exposure to someone with the Covid-19 disease."

Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with Covid-19," the CDC said.

The criteria include that the people exposed to Covid-19 were fully vaccinated, exposure was within three months after receipt of the last dose, and they have remained asymptomatic since the current exposure, according to the agency. 

Reuters

February 11 2021 - 07:00

Vaccinating as many people as possible is key to saving SA's recovery

Vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, is critical for saving SA's economy, businesses, and livelihoods — all while boosting social development.

This is according to speakers at a multi-stakeholder webinar on the role of vaccines in economic and social recovery.

The speakers included Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach, Afrika Tikkun Group CEO Marc Lubner and University of the Free State chancellor Prof Bonang Mohale. The webinar was organised by youth development non-profit organisation Afrika Tikkun.

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