COVID-19 WRAP | At lease 52,647 heath care workers had been vaccinated by Thursday

25 February 2021 - 07:33
By TimesLIVE
A health worker prepares a syringe with a dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a mass vaccination in Mexico City, Mexico February 24 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Carlos Jasso A health worker prepares a syringe with a dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a mass vaccination in Mexico City, Mexico February 24 2021.

February 25 2021 - 23:03

At lease 52,647 heath care workers had been vaccinated by Thursday 

The department of health said at least 52,647 health care workers had been vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol by Thursday evening.

It was also confirmed that 1,676 cases of Covid-19 had been reported over the last 24-hours. 

"Regrettably, 144 deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 7, Free State 25, Gauteng 14, Kwa-ZuluNatal 10, Limpopo 22, Mpumalanga 10, North West 41, Northern Cape 2 and Western Cape 13," said the department.

This brings the total number of Covid-19 deaths to 49,667.

February 25 2021 - 18:05

Zweli Mkhize welcomes SIU probe into R82m tender linked to his associates

Health minister Zweli Mkhize says he welcomes a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into a tender issued by his department to a company linked to his associates.

This comes after the SIU said it was probing a tender issued by the department to a company called Digital Vibes, awarded an R82m contract initially for work related to the National Health Insurance and later Covid-19.

The Daily Maverick reported that the company got the tender irregularly and later employed Tahera Mather, a long-serving spokesperson and alleged family friend of Mkhize, as a consultant. It said the company also appointed a former assistant to the minister, Naadhira Mitha.

February 25 2021 - 17:38

Nigeria will need supplementary budget for Covid-19 vaccines - finance minister Zainab Ahmed

Nigeria will draw up a supplementary budget in March to cover the cost of Covid-19 vaccinations, for which no provision was made in the 2021 finance bill adopted in December, finance minister Zainab Ahmed said on Thursday.

The government has said it plans to inoculate 40% of Nigeria's 200 million people this year and another 30% in 2022. The country, Africa's most populous, has been hit by a second wave of infections in recent weeks.

"There will be a supplementary budget, the first one will be in March relating to the Covid-19 pandemic," Ahmed told reporters, without giving any indication of its size.

February 25 2021 - 17:37

Imminent closure of Nasrec field hospital will not disrupt Covid-19 treatment in Gauteng

Gauteng's health department says the closure of the Nasrec field hospital this weekend  will not have a major impact on the future treatment of Covid-19 patients in Gauteng.

The closure is due to an expansion of the existing public health-care system by 4,265 additional beds and “evidence-based, scientific advice given by the provincial modelling team”.

Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi said on Thursday there were no longer any scientific, statistical or clinical reasons to keep the facility open.

February 25 2021 - 17:36

SA aims to vaccinate 1.1 million people by the end of March

SA aims to vaccinate around 1.1 million people against Covid-19 by the end of March as it ramps up its immunisation programme, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday.

Addressing parliament, Mkhize said authorities might have to inoculate more than their original target of 40 million people to reach herd immunity.

The country started rolling out Johnson & Johnson's (J&J's) vaccine last week in a research study targeting health-care workers. It hopes to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine soon.

February 25 2021 - 17:35

Syria says it has received Covid-19 vaccinations from 'friendly country'

Syria's health minister said on Thursday it had received Covid-19 vaccination doses from a "friendly country" and healthcare workers would start receiving inoculations next week.

Hassan Ghabash's comments, carried by state news agency SANA, did not specify which country provided the vaccines or how many doses had arrived.

Health officials had said Syria was engaged with Russia and China on vaccines but no bilateral deals have been announced yet.

China said earlier this month it would send 150,000 doses of vaccine to Syria as aid but a source told Reuters on Thursday those had not been delivered yet.

February 25 2021 - 15:02

AU backs call to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 drugs

The AU is backing calls for drug makers to waive some intellectual property rights on Covid-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries, the head of its disease control body said on Thursday.

SA and India, which both manufacture drugs and vaccines, made the proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last year, arguing that intellectual property (IP) rules were hindering the urgent scale-up of vaccine production and provision of medical products to some patients.

They have faced opposition from some developed nations, but the backing of the AU may give renewed impetus for the push to relax IP rules.

February 25 2021 - 14:29

Moderna developing booster shot for new coronavirus variants, ups production target

Moderna Inc says it is working with US government scientists to study an experimental booster shot that targets a concerning new variant of the coronavirus, and has raised its global Covid-19 vaccine production goal for this year by 100 million doses.

The US biotech company has produced raw material for a booster shot aimed at addressing the virus variant first found in SA that may be more resistant to existing vaccines, it said. It has shipped the vaccine to the US National Institutes of Health, which helped develop Moderna's current vaccine, for additional study.

February 25 2021 - 14:13

Pfizer-BioNTech testing booster of their Covid-19 vaccine in new trial

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Thursday they are testing a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the virus.

They are also in talks with regulatory authorities about testing a vaccine modified to protect specifically against the highly transmissible new variant found in SA and elsewhere, known as B.1.351, as a second arm of the same study.

The companies believe their current two-dose vaccine will work against the “South African variant” as well as one found in the UK and elsewhere. But the studies will allow the vaccine makers to be prepared if and when more protection is necessary, they said.

February 25 2021 - 13:30

African Union backs call to waive IP rights on Covid-19 drugs

The African Union is backing calls for drugmakers to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries, the head of its disease control body said on Thursday.

South Africa and India, which both manufacture drugs and vaccines, made the proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year, arguing that intellectual property (IP) rules were hindering the urgent scale-up of vaccine production and provision of medical products to some patients.

They have faced opposition from some developed nations, but the backing of the African Union (AU) may give renewed impetus for the push to relax IP rules.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news conference that IP transfer was a "win-win for everybody" that would address the huge inequalities in global public health.

-REUTERS

February 25 2021 - 12:44

Finland will have 3-week lockdown starting March 8, says PM

Finland will go into a three-week lockdown starting March 8, the Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday, as the country faces a rising number of coronavirus cases.

The lockdown will not include a curfew but will involve the closing of restaurants and ordering school students that are 13 or older to shift to remote learning, the government said. 

-REUTERS

February 25 2021 - 10:49

China denies that US diplomats were required to take anal swab tests for COVID-19

China's foreign ministry on Thursday denied that U.S. diplomats in the country were asked to take anal swabs for COVID-19, following media reports that some U.S. diplomats had complained about the procedure.

U.S. media outlet Vice on Wednesday cited a U.S. State Department official as saying that the test was given in error and that China had said it would stop using the swabs for testing of U.S. diplomats.

"To my knowledge ... China has never required U.S. diplomatic staff stationed in China to conduct anal swab tests," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing on Thursday.

-REUTERS

February 25 2021 - 07:30

Czech government bans travel to South Africa, Brazil due to virus variants

The Czech Republic will ban travel by its citizens to several African and South American countries where there is high risk from new South African or Brazilian coronavirus variants, the government said on Wednesday.

The government is seeking to slow a fast-rising COVID-19 infection rate that has put stress on the central European country's hospitals. Lawmakers have debated tighter measures to combat the spread.

The health ministry said the travel ban would be in effect from Feb. 26 to April 11, with some exceptions. It includes countries such as Botswana, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and others.

The ministry has reported some new COVID-19 infections suspected to be from the South African variant but has not confirmed those cases.

-REUTERS