COVID-19 WRAP | Stage set for 'rapid expansion' of SA's vaccination programme, says Mkhize

06 April 2021 - 12:13 By TimesLIVE

April 06 2021 - 23:11

Stage set for 'rapid expansion' of SA's vaccination programme, says Mkhize

The deal to bring in 20 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines has been officially signed, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

Once payment processes were completed, he said, the country would “close the deal in the next few days”.

“With the Johnson & Johnson agreement also fully concluded, this sets the stage for a significant and rapid expansion of our vaccination programme,” he said.

April 06 2021 - 22:31

Oxford pauses Covid-19 vaccine study in kids, awaits more data on blood clot issues

The University of Oxford said on Tuesday it had paused a small UK trial testing the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca Plc in children and teenagers, as it waits for more data on rare blood clotting issues in adults who received the shot.

The trial disruption is the latest blow to the vaccine, once hailed as a milestone in the fight against the pandemic, after several countries restricted its use in light of reports of medical issues after inoculations.

There were no safety concerns in the pediatric trial, Oxford University said, adding that it would await guidance from the UK drugs watchdog before giving any further vaccinations.

April 06 2021 - 18:55

DA wants Human Rights Commission to investigate ‘criminally’ slow vaccine rollout

The DA wants the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to urgently investigate the government’s vaccine rollout strategy.

DA shadow minister of health Siviwe Gwarube described the slow pace of the vaccine rollout as “criminal”.

Gwarube said South Africans cannot continue hoping the timeline, which keeps being adjusted for the “impossible” delays, will be met because nothing has gone according to the government’s plan to date.

April 06 2021 - 18:53

Hundreds of prospective students flock for 'hoax' registration at DUT

Throngs of prospective students — many of whom weren't wearing masks — jostled for space and disregarded Covid-19 protocols as they queued at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on Tuesday to register for an apparent hoax advertisement offering academic places. . 

The huge crowd overwhelmed university management and security as they stood in line from the taxi rank on the street, into the campus and later piled up in the sports complex.

South African Students Congress convener Malwande Ndobe said the situation at DUT was “abnormal and chaotic”.

April 06 2021 - 17:59

Brazil's Covid-19 death surge set to pass the worst of record US wave

Brazil's brutal surge in Covid-19 deaths will soon surpass the worst of a record January wave in the United States, climbing well beyond an average 3,000 fatalities per day, scientists predict, as contagious new variants overwhelm hospitals.

Brazil's overall death toll trails only the US outbreak, with nearly 333,000 killed, according to Health Ministry data, compared with more than 555,000 dead in the United States.

But with Brazil's healthcare system at the breaking point, the country could also exceed total US deaths, despite having two-thirds the population, two experts told Reuters.

April 06 2021 - 17:58

Bosnians protest, telling government to resign over lack of Covid vaccines

Hundreds of Bosnians staged a protest in the capital Sarajevo on Tuesday, demanding the resignations of top government officials over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic and failure to launch a nationwide vaccination programme.

The demonstration came as the country reported a further 99 deaths from Covid-19, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began last year and following a surge in infection rates in Bosnia over the past month.

Protesters marched through the city centre carrying placards reading "The Fight for Life" and "Resignations and Vaccines", while others drove in a motorcade, honking their car horns in support. A spokesman for Sarajevo police estimated that about 500 people joined the march and at least 300 people were in the motorcade of about 150 cars.

April 06 2021 - 14:06

Indonesia reports coronavirus case with "Eek" mutation

 Indonesia has reported its first case of a more transmissible new variant of the coronavirus known for reducing vaccine protection, but the government on Tuesday said vaccines being used in the country could withstand the mutation.

The new variant contains the E484K mutation found in variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil.

It is nicknamed "Eek" by some scientists for its apparent ability to evade natural immunity from previous Covid-19 infection and to reduce protection offered by current vaccines.

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official, said on Tuesday that the one variant case had recovered and did not infect close contacts, adding that the vaccines currently available in Indonesia could withstand the mutation.

However, Herawati Sudoyo, deputy director for fundamental research at the government-funded Eijkman Institute, which specialises in medical molecular biology and biotechnology, said the vaccines' ability to withstand the mutation had yet to be determined.

The first case of the variant comes as the country prepares for a reduced supply of Covid-19 vaccines due to export curbs of AstraZeneca's shot imposed by manufacturer India to prioritise its domestic supplies.

Indonesia's health minister said on Monday only 20 million of the 30 million doses it had ordered for a March-April delivery were available due to the export curbs.

He called for the vaccination programme to be readjusted and prioritised for the elderly.

With around 1.54 million cases and 41,900 deaths so far, Indonesia has the highest caseload in Southeast Asia and one of the worst epidemics in Asia.


April 06 2021 - 13:52

What will life look like after the coronavirus pandemic? 

What might life be like after the Covid-19 pandemic? British-American sociologist Richard Sennett is one of the world's most important theorists of urban studies, or the architecture and social life of cities. He's currently a member of the Council of Urban Initiatives for United Nations Habitat. Since the beginning of the outbreak Sennett has written about his concerns for city-life amid growing pandemic restrictions. He helps us imagine a post-pandemic world.

April 06 2021 - 12:34

New Covid-19 variants have changed the game, vaccines will not be enough

At the end of 2020, there was a strong hope that high levels of vaccination would see humanity finally gain the upper hand over SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. In an ideal scenario, the virus would then be contained at very low levels without further societal disruption or significant numbers of deaths.

April 06 2021 - 11:51

SA signs deal for 20 million Pfizer Covid-19 doses

SA has signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc for 20 million dual-shot Covid-19 vaccine doses, a government official told Reuters on Tuesday, boosting plans to start mass vaccinations from April.

April 06 2021 - 11:05

Global Covid-19 death toll surpasses 3 million amid new infections resurgence

Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide crossed 3 million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the latest global resurgence of Covid-19 infections is challenging vaccination efforts across the globe.

April 06 2021 - 10:51

#GiftSindiLife: More than R1m raised to fund Dr Sindi van Zyl’s medical bill

More than R1m has been raised towards a R2m target to help  Johannesburg doctor and radio DJ Sindi van Zyl to pay her medical bills.

April 06 2021 - 10:49

Australia short of 3 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses in blow to vaccination drive

Australia on Tuesday said it had not yet received more than 3 million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses amid export curbs by the European Union, leaving a major hole in its early nationwide inoculation drive.

April 06 2021 - 10:40

Global Covid-19 death toll surpasses 3 million amid new infections resurgence

Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide crossed 3 million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the latest global resurgence of Covid-19 infections is challenging vaccination efforts across the globe.

Worldwide Covid-19 deaths are rising once again, especially in Brazil and India.

Health officials blame more infectious variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, along with public fatigue with lockdowns and other restrictions.

According to a Reuters tally, it took more than a year for the global coronavirus death toll to reach 2 million. 


April 06 2021 - 09:09

Africa needs $12bn for vaccines to interrupt Covid-19 transmission -World Bank

The World Bank estimates that Africa would need about $12 billion for Covid-19 vaccines and their distribution to attain sufficient levels of vaccination coverage to interrupt virus transmission, according to new paper by the bank and the IMF.

April 06 2021 - 09:00

Britain to deploy Moderna Covid-19 shot from third week of April - minister

Britain will begin the rollout of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine in mid-April, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Tuesday, adding the vaccination programme was on track to meet government targets.

Asked if deployment of the shot was on track to begin in mid-April, Zahawi said "very much so."

"It'll be in deployment around the third week of April," he told BBC TV, adding he was confident that the government would meet a target of offering all adults a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July. 


April 06 2021 - 07:15

India reports 96,982 new coronavirus cases

India reported 96,982 new coronavirus infections overnight, taking the overall tally of cases to 12.7 million, data from health ministry showed on Tuesday.

The country reported 446 deaths, taking the total to 165,547, data showed.

India's caseload is the third-highest globally behind the United States and Brazil.


April 06 2021 - 07:10

Air New Zealand to fly 70% of pre-Covid capacity to Australia as travel bubble opens

Air New Zealand Ltd said on Tuesday it would begin flying at 70% of its pre-pandemic flight capacity to Australia once a two-way quarantine-free travel bubble opens on April 19, in a move that is expected to reduce its cash burn.

Before the pandemic, Australia was New Zealand's largest tourism market and demand for travel between the two countries represented around 20% of Air New Zealand's revenue, the carrier said in a statement.

In a boost to the New Zealand carrier and rival Qantas Airways Ltd, Virgin Australia said on Tuesday it had suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until Oct. 31.Air New Zealand shares were trading 6.7% higher at 0455 GMT, while Qantas shares were 2.8% higher.

Air New Zealand had previously guided the market to expect cash burn of NZ$45 million ($31.73 million) to NZ$55 million a month through June 30 at a time when most other international services are suspended.

The airline said the start of quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia was expected to reduce cash burn, though it was not yet in a position to provide updated information.

"As such, the airline's cash burn guidance has been suspended at this time," Air New Zealand said. 


April 06 2021 - 07:00

North Korea will drop out of the Tokyo Olympics because of concerns over coronavirus, state media says