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Novavax works on 501Y.V2, ivermectin gets partial permi...

Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS WEEKLY DIGEST #17

Novavax works on 501Y.V2, ivermectin gets partial permission and Gauteng spends millions on unnecessary school cleaning

This week, South Africa received good news on the Novavax vaccine. The country’s health regulatory authority has granted the controlled, compassionate use of ivermectin for Covid-19 patients. And the Gauteng Department of Basic Education has come under the spotlight for spending millions on unnecessary cleaning.

Maverick Citizen publishes a Coronavirus Weekly Digest each Friday. The digest summarises highlights from the previous week’s news about the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

Clinical results show Novavax vaccine protects against new variant – and other vaccine news

The Novavax vaccine for Covid-19 is the first to show high levels of efficacy against the variants 501Y.V2 and B117, both first detected in South Africa. It was also confirmed that data from the clinical trial shows there is a high risk for patients who had been infected with the “original” Covid-19 infection to be reinfected by the two new variants. As Estelle Ellis writes, Novavax plans to create a vaccine that will include the “original” virus and the variant within the next few months.

In other vaccine news, a new study has shown that 67% of South Africa’s population would definitely or probably get the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The researchers unpack why some are hesitant to take it. 

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Minerals Council South Africa says the mining sector has the ability to vaccinate up to three million people. As Ed Stoddard writes, Roger Baxter says this can be done by using the sector’s “significant” healthcare infrastructure and capacity. 

Vaccines are due to arrive soon. How ready is South Africa to administer Covid-19 vaccines once they arrive? Will barcoding be a stumbling block? Can South Africa’s state-owned vaccine manufacturer Biovac step up to the plate

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has used its annual letter to call strongly for an inclusive rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine globally. It warned of the perpetuation of immunity inequality severely affecting essential workers, communities of colour, people experiencing poverty and women. Estelle Ellis outlines the call here

South Africa’s medicines regulator authorises ivermectin for ‘compassionate use’

The South African Health Products Authority announced on 27 January that it would allow controlled and compassionate access to ivermectin for use for patients with Covid-19. It emphasised that there is not enough evidence yet to grant it full registration. As Mark Heywood writes, health professionals need to apply to administer the medicine so as to make sure they take responsibility for safety and monitor efficacy. 

Read more: Little to lose: A doctor argues we must start using ivermectin now

Shonisani Lethole died because of medical negligence, Health Ombud finds

Health Ombud Prof Malegapuru William Makgoba has found that medical negligence was to blame for Shonisani Lethole’s death at Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital. Makgoba found that Lethole did not eat for 100 hours and 54 minutes while at the hospital. Lethole’s clinical records and test results were “defective” and “appalling”. Makgoba has recommended an investigation into the hospital’s management and disciplinary proceedings for 20 staff for their role in Lethole’s death. Zukiswa Pikoli unpacks the report here.

Read more: ‘My son died a lonely death’ – Shonisani Lethole’s mother

Gauteng Department of Education spent millions on unnecessary cleaning

A Maverick Citizen investigation has revealed that the department spent more than R431-million in three months to “deep clean” and “decontaminate” schools. These forms of cleaning are not required or recommended by the Department of Health or the Department of Basic Education. As Mark Heywood writes, the hundreds of companies involved have little to no expertise or prior experience in this sector.

Read more: Continuing the Conversation: The Gauteng Education department and the costs of ‘deep cleaning schools’

Activists call for extension and increase of Social Relief of Distress grant

More than 180 civil society organisations have backed the #PayTheGrants campaign for the extension and increase of the Social Relief of Distress grant. This includes activists such as Thuli Madonsela and Zwelinzima Vavi. Six million people rely on this grant. Zukiswa Pikoli outlines the campaign’s call here.

Foreign doctors go unpaid and at great risk to treat Covid-19 in South Africa

Doctors from other African countries have gone unpaid for months despite working long shifts to care for Covid-19 patients. They are on the supernumerary registrar programme to give doctors specialised training in South Africa in order to take those skills home. They are registered here as students, so don’t have benefits or salaries like their South African colleagues. Rebecca Davis spoke to them.

Supreme Court of Appeal finds some lockdown rules infringed on rights

The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled on 28 January that lockdown regulations relating to hot food and exercise infringed on rights, however, other lockdown regulations contested in the court were justifiable. Eight residents had approached the Western Cape High Court to challenge the lawfulness of the establishment of the National Coronavirus Command Council and some lockdown regulations. The high court dismissed the application, whereafter the residents approached the Supreme Court. Caryn Dolley unpacks the ruling.

Come and try to ‘save lives’ in this home of 47, pleads Mitchells Plain family

Five members of the May household have been asking why they have been on the City of Cape Town’s housing list for years and still have no house. The 47 family members live on one property in Mitchells Plain and the pandemic has given their plea for adequate housing and water a new sense of urgency. They have been engaging with the City with little success. Read their story here. DM/MC

Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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