We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

COVID-19 WRAP | New daily jab record, but excess deaths keep heading upwards

21 July 2021 - 06:00 By TimesLIVE
A health worker holds a syringe with a dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at the Mexico City Arena, in Mexico City, Mexico July 20, 2021.
A health worker holds a syringe with a dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at the Mexico City Arena, in Mexico City, Mexico July 20, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Luis Cortes

July 21 2021 — 21:06

Health department fears looting spree will push Covid-19 numbers up

The health department says it’s concerned about the likelihood of increased Covid-19 infections as a result of the looting spree in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in the past 10 days.

“Many [people] have been interacting in this looting spree and some of them may have come into contact with people who are positive. We are requesting that when they see signs [of Covid-19 infection], they present themselves to a facility so that we can contain the Delta variant in KZN,” said the acting minister of health, Mmamoloko Kubayi.

July 21 2021 — 20:28

New daily jab record, but excess deaths keep heading upwards

A new daily Covid-19 vaccination record of 257,492 on Wednesday was tempered by news that excess deaths continue to mount countrywide.

Even among over-60s, who have been eligible for vaccinations since May 17, excess deaths are rocketing as the Delta variant of Covid-19 drives SA's third wave of infections.

The South African Medical Research Council team that issues weekly reports on excess deaths said on Wednesday the over-60 age group experienced 7,242 excess deaths in the week from July 11 to 17.

July 21 2021 — 20:26

SA passes 68,000 Covid-19 deaths, with more than 500 fatalities confirmed in 24 hours

SA recorded 516 Covid-19 related deaths for the past 24 hours, the health department said on Wednesday — but emphasised that 197 of the fatalities actually took place in the previous 48 hours.

These latest figures mean that there have now been 68,192 confirmed deaths recorded since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in SA.

The NICD said that in the same period there were 16,240 new Covid-19 cases identified across SA. These have now been 2,327,472 confirmed cases to date.

July 21 2021 — 18:49

Sahpra investigating 1,490 'adverse effects' from J&J and Pfizer jabs

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said on Wednesday it was investigating adverse findings reported from administering the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines in SA.

“As at July 7, we had received 1,494 or so safety reports, 564 for the Pfizer vaccine, 930 for the J&J vaccine,” said Sahpra CEO Dr Boitumelo Semete- Makokotlela.

Briefing parliament's portfolio committee on health, Semete-Makokotlela said a report would be released on Friday detailing the analysis being conducted on the adverse findings reported on the two vaccines now being administered in SA.

July 21 2021 — 17:29

Gauteng not through third wave yet as looting hinders vaccination drive

Gauteng's Covid-19 vaccination rollout and testing procedures were dealt a blow as protests, violence and looting rocked the province last week.

Testing and vaccinations were also hard hit in KwaZulu-Natal, where the riots started — before spreading north — in the wake of former president Jacob Zuma's incarceration.

Prof Bruce Mellado, a member of the Gauteng premier’s advisory committee (PAC), said the province was not yet safe as they would only be able to fully understand the effect of the protest in a few days' time.

July 21 2021 — 16:22

Biovac-Pfizer partnership is a breakthrough for Africa: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the announcement of a collaboration between SA’s Biovac Institute and global vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, saying the protection of Africans is a necessary and critical contribution to the protection of humanity as a whole.

“The partnership between Biovac and Pfizer is a breakthrough in our effort to overcome global vaccine inequity,” said Ramaphosa in his capacity as the AU champion on Covid-19.

Biovac and Pfizer announced on Wednesday that the Pfizer vaccine will be produced in Cape Town by the Biovac Institute. The institute is a vaccine producer in a private-public partnership with the government and pharmaceutical private sector.

July 21 2021 — 13:15

No health pass, no cinema or museum: France tightens Covid-19 rules

Where's your health pass? Visitors heading to museums, cinemas or swimming pools in France will be denied entry from Wednesday if they cannot show the document that proves they have been vaccinated against Covid -19 or have had a recent negative test.

The health pass, previously only required for large-scale festivals or to go clubbing, will also be needed from the start of August to enter restaurants and bars and for long-distance train and plane journeys, as authorities try to slow the spread of the virus and encourage people to get vaccinated.

The new rule came as a shock for some on Wednesday.

"I was really angry... I had no idea," said Nelly Breton, 51, after being turned away from the Louvre museum in Paris.

"But then I calmed down and understood there were health reasons," she said, adding that she would now look for a pharmacy to get a rapid Covid test.

Servane de Lansdheer, head of security at the museum, said Covid test done.

The introduction of the health pass - a QR code on your smartphone or on a piece of paper - has proved hugely contentious in France, triggering protests nationwide.

To shouts of "Freedom!" and "No to the health pass," more than 100,000 people joined rallies nationwide last weekend against a pass they say infringes their liberties.

More rallies - some leaning towards the far-left, others led by more right-wing anti-vaxxers - are planned in coming days.


July 21 2021 — 13:05

Vaccine deserts: The poor nations trailing in the fight against Covid-19

At a private hospital in Burundi's capital, emergency specialist Emmanuel Kubwayo is worried for the first time since the coronavirus started spreading around the world last year.

Kubwayo initially shared the government's view that the small central African country did not need Covid-19 vaccines because it had so few cases. But as deaths and infections surge across Africa, he has changed his mind.

Along with Eritrea, Tanzania and North Korea, Burundi is one of a handful of nations that have not started vaccinations, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), potentially threatening global efforts to end the pandemic.

“It's time to let people who want, and can, to get vaccinated,” said Kubwayo, 53, whose name has been changed to protect his identity.”

Burundi isn't an isolated island and if we don't do so, the virus will circulate freely in the country and the region.

“So far, only about 18 million people in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion, have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 due largely to vaccine shortages, as well as widespread hesitancy.

But infections and deaths have jumped in recent weeks as more contagious variants take hold, shining a spotlight on the world's so-called vaccine deserts — places that are either unable or unwilling to undertake mass inoculation.

Burundi's interior minister, Gervais Ndirakobuca, told reporters last week the government was not against vaccines, pointing to the fact the country has allowed them in for foreigners working for the United Nations and other agencies.

Ndirakobuca, who is also president of the National Commission for the Fight against COVID-19, was not available for comment for this story.


As rich countries open up and start vaccinating less vulnerable younger people, poor countries are struggling to secure vaccines. In Africa and elsewhere, such as Haiti, health authorities have barely begun mass rollouts.

Worldwide, wealthy nations have administered about half of total Covid-19 vaccine doses, compared with just 0.4% in low-income countries, WHO figures from last month show, revealing glaring vaccine inequality.

The gap could widen still further as some governments order millions of booster doses to tackle a spike in cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant, before others have received supplies for health workers and other high-risk groups.

“The global failure to share vaccines equitably is fuelling the pandemic,” said Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson.”


July 21 2021 — 12:50

Johnson & Johnson forecasts $2.5bn in 2021 sales of Covid-19 shot

Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday forecast just $2.5 billion in 2021 sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, which has fallen way behind rival shots from Pfizer and Moderna as the company deals with vaccine production issues and safety concerns.


July 21 2021 — 12:30

Ronald Lamola denies prisoners are getting preferential treatment in Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Correctional services minister Ronald Lamola has dismissed claims that prisoners are receiving preferential treatment in the Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme. 

The minister told Jacaranda FM the criticism is unfounded as inmates are getting vaccinated along with the general population.

“With regards to those who are criticising us and claiming we are giving preference to inmates above society, that criticism is unfounded. Older inmates were vaccinated when the population 60 years and above received their jabs. 

“When it was 50 years and above, they participated with everyone in society, so there was no preference. The reality is we are going to go further than that with the health department so we are able to reach herd immunity,” he told the station.

July 21 2021 — 12:27

KwaZulu-Natal health facilities are returning to normal, says MEC

The KwaZulu-Natal health department says hospitals, clinics and community health centres are gradually returning to normal after a week of unrest, looting and vandalism. 

MEC Nomagugu Simelane provided an update in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday during one of a series of inspections to assess damage at state facilities.

“We are satisfied with the gradual return to normal working conditions at health facilities throughout the province.

“We are still calculating the real costs of the damage, but we are pleased that most staff have returned to work. The queues are a bit longer than usual, but they will grow shorter as more people are seen.

July 21 2021 — 11:42

Beer industry calls for end to liquor ban to avoid industry collapse

Basa, which comprises the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken SA and SA Breweries, said it was estimated the latest four-week ban had put 9,206 jobs in the alcohol industry at risk, with a potential loss of R10.2bn in taxes and excise duties.

July 21 2021 — 11:33

Australia, under lockdown, sees worrying jump in Covid-19 cases

Australia's two largest states reported sharp increases in new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, a blow to hopes that lockdown restrictions would be lifted with more than half the country's population under stay-at-home orders.

July 21 2021 — 11:00

'You do not know what you are talking about': Fauci to Paul

Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci got into another heated discussion with Republican Senator Rand Paul during a Senate hearing on the coronavirus.

July 21 2021 — 10:00

Vietnam produces first batch of Russian Covid-19 vaccine

The first test batch of Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 has been produced in Vietnam, Russia's sovereign wealth fund RDIF and Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm VABIOTECH said on Wednesday.

The first validation samples taken from the produced batch will be shipped to the Gamaleya Center in Russia for quality control cheques, the fund and the company said in a joint statement. 


July 21 2021 — 09:36

'You don't have to disclose a lot of information': Kubayi urges looters to get tested for Covid-19

Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has called on those who participated in the unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to get tested for Covid-19.

Kubayi made the call on Tuesday at the launch of the vaccination programme for correctional services officials and inmates.

The vaccination rollout for officials and inmates is under way in SA's prisons.

Inmates will receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine provided by the health department.

Making her plea, Kubayi said those who participated in the looting don't have to disclose too much information about themselves.

“I know some of them are scared that they will be arrested as they get to the facilities, but from a health point of view, we really urge them to come,” said Kubayi.

July 21 2021 — 08:29

Nelson Mandela Bay reaches peak of Covid-19 third wave

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane says Nelson Mandela Bay has reached the peak of the third wave of Covid-19 infections. 

On Tuesday Mabuyane said the metro had peaked at 600 new cases a day.

The premier also announced the provincial health department had appointed former Frere Hospital CEO Dr Rolene Wagner as the new health boss effective from Aug. 1.

July 21 2021 — 08:18

Twitter temporarily blocks US Republican Greene for Covid-19 posts

Twitter Inc on Monday said it temporarily suspended Republican US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene's account for tweets which violated the social media's misinformation policy on Covid-19. 

Greene posted that the coronavirus is not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65, and that organisations should not force “non-FDA” approved vaccines or masks. These tweets have been labelled as “misleading” by the platform.

The US is using vaccines made by Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson under Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorisation. None of these vaccines are fully approved but numerous studies have proven their efficacy.

US President Joe Biden has called on the social media companies to take action on vaccine misinformation.

July 21 2021 — 07:00

'Scaremongering at its worst': Pro-ivermectin doctor hits back at colleague who says drug doesn't work

An ICU specialist at a teaching hospital has hit back strongly at claims made by a respected pulmonologist that ivermectin is of no use in treating Covid-19. 

Prof Nathi Mdladla, head of the ICU at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital and Sefako Makgatho University, said the claims made by Dr Emmanuel Taban that the drug offered little benefit and had contributed to liver failure in a number of patients were “scaremongering at its worst”.

“I have treated more than 200 Covid-19 outpatients including relatives and friends and their contacts,” Mdladla said in a rebuttal sent to TimesLIVE.

July 21 2021 — 06:20

Delta variant accounts for more than 80% of US cases

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is the cause of more than 80% of new US Covid-19 cases, but the authorised vaccines remain more than 90% effective in preventing hospitalisation and deaths, said top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci during US Senate hearing on Tuesday.

July 21 2021 — 06:15

US life expectancy fell year and a half in 2020 due to Covid-19 — CDC

Life expectancy in the US fell by a year and a half in 2020 to 77.3 years, the lowest level since 2003, primarily due to the deaths caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a US health agency said on Wednesday.

It is the biggest one-year decline since World War 2, when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943, and is six months shorter than its February 2021 estimate, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

“Life expectancy has been increasing gradually every year for the past several decades,” Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, told Reuters.

“The decline between 2019 and 2020 was so large that it took us back to the levels we were in 2003.

Sort of like we lost a decade.”

Deaths from Covid-19 contributed to nearly three-fourths, or 74%, of the decline and drug overdoses were also a major contributor, the CDC said.

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) last week released interim data showing that US drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30% in 2020.

The latest CDC report is based on provisional mortality data for January through December of 2020. Racial, gender and ethnic disparities worsened during the period, the report said.

Life expectancy for Black people fell by 2.9 years to 71.8 in 2020, the lowest level since 2000. Life expectancy for Hispanic males dropped 3.7 years to 75.3, the largest decline of any group.

Disparity in life expectancy between men and women also widened in 2020, with women now expected to live 80.2 years, or 5.7 years longer than men — six months more than foreseen in 2019.

The data represents early estimates based on death certificates received, processed, and coded but not finalised by the NCHS.


July 21 2021 — 06:10

India's 3,998 new Covid-19 deaths are its highest in a month

India reported on Wednesday 42,015 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, while daily deaths jumped to 3,998, their highest since June 12, health ministry data showed.

India's tally of infections stands at 31.22 million, with a death toll of 418,480, the data showed. 


July 21 2021 — 06:00

How do I know if I have vaccine side-effects or Covid-19 symptoms?

From the lives it has claimed to the economic devastation it has unleashed worldwide, Covid-19 continues to pose a major threat to society.

It remains necessary to be vigilant and to take care not to infect others if you’ve contracted the disease, even if you’ve had the vaccine.

That’s because you can still get Covid-19 after having your jab.

It’s also possible you may have been infected with Covid-19 before receiving the vaccine but weren’t aware you had it.

Adding to the confusion is that the side-effects you may experience after the jab are similar to the symptoms characteristic of Covid-19.

How do you tell the difference between the two?

July 21 2021 — 06:00

Had Covid-19 in the past nine months? Your body has a chance against Delta

A single infection supplies antibodies for the better part of a year and reinfection can further boost immune response