COVID-19 WRAP | Judge dismisses SAB case against booze ban

22 July 2021 - 06:00 By TimesLIVE
Deonjay Sailor, 15, receives his first dose of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at a mobile pop-up vaccination clinic hosted by the Detroit Health Department with the Detroit Public Schools Community District at East English Village Preparatory Academy in Detroit, Michigan, US, July 21, 2021.
Deonjay Sailor, 15, receives his first dose of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at a mobile pop-up vaccination clinic hosted by the Detroit Health Department with the Detroit Public Schools Community District at East English Village Preparatory Academy in Detroit, Michigan, US, July 21, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Emily Elconin

July 22 2021 — 19:49

Judge dismisses SAB case against booze ban

SAB's attempts to have the government's alcohol sales ban overturned was dismissed by the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

The company had gone to court to request that the sales ban — implemented under lockdown level 4 — be set aside.

It argued, among other things, that co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s power under the Disaster Management Act (DMA) did not include the power to “override or repeal existing legislation”.

July 22 2021 — 19:15

SA records 433 new Covid-19 deaths, 14,858 cases in 24 hours

SA recorded another 433 new Covid-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Thursday.

This means that there have been 68,625 fatalities from the coronavirus recorded since its outbreak in SA in March last year.

July 22 2021 — 14:07

Study showed poor hand hygiene at Joburg emergency unit before pandemic 

A study before the coronavirus pandemic in SA uncovered poor hand hygiene standards at the emergency unit of a Johannesburg tertiary academic hospital.

The study, by the African Journal of Emergency Medicine, observed the hygiene practices of staff over six weeks between March 11 and April 24 in 2019.

Though the hospital was not named in the report, the hospital was described as a 1,000-bed academic tertiary hospital. About 40,000 patients attend the emergency unit annually. It had 14 beds and seven handwashing basins, each equipped with liquid soap and a paper towel dispenser.

July 22 2021 — 13:23

Africa to start receiving 400m J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses

Africa, battling a severe third wave of Covid-19 infections, will start to receive the first batch of 400m doses of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson next week, the AU's special envoy on Covid-19 said on Thursday. 

Only about 60m doses have been administered among a total population of 1.3bn so far on the 55-nation continent.

J&J doses will be used to immunise half of the estimated 800m people in need of the vaccine on the continent, Strive Masiyiwa, who is also co-ordinator of the AU task force on vaccine acquisition, told an online news conference.

July 22 2021 — 13:10

SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium says 73% probability province is over hump

The Western Cape, which has lagged only behind Gauteng in its portion of the daily national Covid-19 infections, has finally hit a plateau in its third wave.

This is according to the head of health in the province, Dr Keith Cloete, as well as the SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium, which said there is a 73% probability that the Western Cape has passed its peak for this wave.

However, because of the lag time between illness and hospitalisation or death, these are still on the increase.

Speaking at a digital press conference on Thursday, Cloete said: “Our third wave looks like a flattening in terms of the number of cases. However, if you look at oxygen use, hospitalisation and daily deaths, these are increasing.”

They are, however, increasing at a lower rate than last week.

July 22 2021 — 13:00

As Indonesia mulls easing lockdown, WHO urges tougher restrictions

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday urged Indonesia to implement a stricter and wider lockdown to combat surging Covid-19 infections and deaths, just days after the country's president flagged the easing of restrictions.

Indonesia has become one of the epicentres of the global pandemic in recent weeks, with positive Covid-19 cases leaping fivefold in the past five weeks.

This week, daily deaths hit record highs over 1,400, among the highest tolls in the world.

In its latest situation report, the WHO said strict implementation of public health and social restrictions were crucial and called for additional "urgent action" to address sharp rises in infections in 13 of Indonesia's 34 provinces.

"Indonesia is currently facing a very high transmission level, and it is indicative of the utmost importance of implementing stringent public health and social measures, especially movement restrictions, throughout the country," it said.

Under Indonesia's partial lockdown, social restrictions such as work-from-home and closed malls are limited to the islands of Java and Bali and small pockets in other parts of the country.


July 22 2021 — 12:15 

US donates 3 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam

The US government will send 3 million more doses of the Moderna Inc Covid-19 vaccine to Vietnam on Thursday, bringing total donations to the Southeast Asian country to 5 million, a White House official said.

The next batch of shots is due to arrive in Vietnam this weekend as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak of the pandemic.

After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam is now seeing a surge in daily infections to record levels.

The Ministry of Health reported 5,357 new infections on Wednesday, up from 4,795 cases on Tuesday. The country has recorded 68,177 infections and 370 deaths overall.

The latest Covid-19 vaccine doses heading to Vietnam are part of an initial pledge by President Joe Biden to donate 80 million vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Washington has also pledged to purchase 500 million Pfizer- BioNTech vaccines to distribute to the African Union and 92 low and lower middle-income countries.

"We will continue to do all we can to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease," the official said.


July 22 2021 — 12:00

Covid app told nearly 620,000 to isolate in England, Wales

Almost 620,000 people in England and Wales were told to isolate by the health service Covid app after they came into contact with someone with the virus in the week up to July 14, official data shows.

The official data showed that 618,903 people had received an alert from the contact tracing app.

According to the data, 607,486 alerts were sent to people in England.

Businesses across nearly all sectors have warned that they are struggling to maintain their operations when so many staff are having to isolate at home.


July 22 2021 — 10:30

Vaccines to be produced in Cape Town

Pfizer-BioNTech agreed to partner with the Biovac Institute to produce the jab locally at a facility in Cape Town.

Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process, known as “fill and finish”, of the vaccine.

“Biovac will perform manufacturing and distribution activities within Pfizer-BioNTech’s global Covid-19 vaccine supply chain and manufacturing network, which will now span three continents and include more than 20 manufacturing facilities. 

July 22 2021 — 09:44

Russia faces vaccine shortages after skepticism

Russia is facing a vaccine shortage as the initially skeptical public lined up to get the shot amid a record third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.

July 22 2021 — 08:00

Mexico in talks to produce Italy's GRAd-COV2 Covid-19 vaccine

Mexican authorities said on Wednesday they are in talks with Italian health authorities and Italian biotech firm ReiThera about the possibility of producing the GRAd-COV2 Covid-19 vaccine in Mexico.

Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Delgado travelled to Italy to speak with Francesco Vaia, director of the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Diseases, and ReiThera executives to discuss the option of producing the vaccine in Mexico, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry reiterated Mexico's plan to participate in GRAd-COV2's Phase III trials, which will require 6,000 volunteers in the country, but did not specify a timeline.

Italy's hopes of producing its own Covid-19 vaccine were given a boost earlier this month when ReiThera said its vaccine candidate showed a strong immune response and no major side effects in intermediate Phase II clinical trials. 


July 22 2021 — 07:50

Biden says children under 12 may be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine by end of August

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that children under 12 may be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination by the end of August or the beginning of September.

Biden made the comment during a town hall event in Ohio hosted by CNN. 


July 22 2021 — 07:36

SA targets one jab for 35m people by Christmas, as Covid-19 vaccine rollout accelerates

The Department of Health has confirmed that issues around the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been resolved and the country will start receiving more vaccines from the manufacturer. 

“Yes, there was a delay in terms of J&J but I can confirm that we are getting a schedule. One of the things that I did when I came was to write to Pfizer and J&J for them to commit to vaccine delivery schedules, acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Wednesday evening.

July 22 2021 — 07:05

Two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca shots effective against Delta variant, study finds

Two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine are nearly as effective against the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant as they are against the previously dominant Alpha variant, a study published on Wednesday showed.

Officials say vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant, now the dominant variant worldwide, though the study reiterated that one shot of the vaccines is not enough for high protection.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms headline findings given by Public Health England in May about the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, based on real-world data.

July 22 2021 — 07:03

Can you prevent Covid-19 with the flu shot?

While Covid-19 and flu can cause similar symptoms, they are two different viruses.

According to Discovery Health, it is possible to be exposed to both viruses and then develop one or both of the illnesses.

So can you prevent Covid-19 with a simple flu shot?

The answer is no. 

“The flu vaccination provides protection for the strain of flu that is expected in each year's flu season. It will not protect you against Covid-19. Only vaccines created for Covid-19 will be effective at protecting individuals from Covid-19,” said Discovery. 

July 22 2021 — 06:45

More than half of all Australians now in lockdown

Australia's two largest states reported sharp increases in new Covid-19 cases with more than half the country's population now under stay-at-home orders

July 22 2021 — 06:28

China rejects WHO plan for study of Covid-19 origin

China rejected on Thursday a World Health Organisation (WHO) plan for a second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which includes the hypothesis it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, a top health official said.

The WHO this month proposed a second phase of studies into the origins of the coronavirus in China, including audits of laboratories and markets in the city of Wuhan, calling for transparency from authorities.

“We will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science,” Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC), told reporters.

Zeng said he was taken aback when he first read the WHO plan because it lists the hypothesis that a Chinese violation of laboratory protocols had caused the virus to leak during research.

“We hope the WHO would seriously review the considerations and suggestions made by Chinese experts and truly treat the origin tracing of the Covid-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference,” Zeng said.

China opposed politicising the study, he said.

The origin of the virus remains contested among experts.

The first known cases emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. 


July 22 2021 — 06:15

Pandemic goes on for the unvaccinated, Biden tells Trump-area town hall

President Joe Biden pleaded with Americans on Wednesday to get vaccinated, as rising Covid-19 cases threaten to undermine progress against the pandemic and slow the country's economic rebound.

“Look, it's real simple. We have a pandemic for those who haven't got a vaccination. It's that basic, that simple,” Biden said at a town-hall event in Ohio that was broadcast on CNN.”

Ten thousand people have recently died. Nine thousand nine hundred and fifty of them, thereabouts, are people who hadn't been vaccinated,” he said.

Biden fielded roughly a dozen questions from Democrats and Republicans about the economy and crime, infrastructure and the filibuster, in a Cincinnati district that Trump won by a heavy margin. The entire audience was vaccinated, the news network noted.

Swiftly rising coronavirus cases across the US and abroad have fuelled fears of a resurgent pandemic and rattled stock markets as the highly contagious Delta variant appears to be taking hold.

Many of the new US outbreaks are in parts of the country where Covid-19 vaccinations have lagged. The White House's vaccination efforts have met waves of disinformation and scepticism.

Biden expressed optimism that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may approve new vaccines for children under 12 as soon as the end of August, ahead of previous estimates.

“My expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together ... is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they'll get a final approval,” Biden said.

He also said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would likely issue guidance encouraging children who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus to wear masks in schools.


July 22 2021 — 06:00

Covid-19 jab does not instantly protect you — here’s how long it takes to kick in

Many people are familiar with the mind tricks Covid-19 can play on us. How many times have you been convinced you contracted the coronavirus because you felt a scratch in your throat, only to be perfectly healthy?

That said, you can’t be too careful because even if you’ve had the vaccine, you can still catch Covid-19.

It’s also possible that you may have been infected with the coronavirus before having the jab but weren’t aware you had it.

Furthermore, Dr Susan Louw, a haematopathologist at SA’s National Health Laboratory Service, explains there’s a window period after receiving the vaccine in which your body has to mount an immune response to Covid-19 to protect you from it.

​“It takes about two to three weeks for your body to get the army of antibodies ready to fight Covid-19,” she said.