CORONAVIRUS WEEKLY DIGEST #22

Private sector will help government with mass vaccine roll-out; nurses fight misinformation; collective action networks look forward

By Christi Nortier 5 March 2021

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

This week, the role of the private sector in the vaccine roll-out came under the microscope. Scientists have learnt that the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19 might offer protection against other variants. Nurses stepped up to the plate to convince their colleagues to take the vaccine in Eastern Cape, while Gauteng’s community action networks reflected on their success and how to make it sustainable. Meanwhile, thousands of Zimbabwean immigrants appeal for help.

501Y.V2 variant might offer protection against other strains

Two separate laboratory tests have shown that antibodies against the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19 protect against the original version of the virus. In February, 99% of infections in South Africa were 501Y.V2. Michael Cherry unpacks the science and what this might mean for vaccines.

For a mass vaccine rollout, SA needs to focus on timing, logistics and collaboration

There are just a few months to go before South Africa plans to roll out Covid-19 vaccines en masse. To make this happen, the country needs to “recalibrate” its strategy and mindset, to use the words of Professor Shabir Madhi. On Monday 1 March, he was in discussion with the government’s business partners as well as Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. They all agreed that timing, logistics and collaboration are of the essence if this enormous task is to take off. Read what they had to say here.

Read more: Collision of failures: How Biovac and “lack of vision” got South Africa into a vaccine mess

Read more: What SA’s Covid-19 experience tells us about NHI

Read more: How do you price a life-saving vaccine during a pandemic?

Nurses champion myth-busting in the Eastern Cape

In Mthatha, Covid-19 vaccine uptake has been slow. As Estelle Ellis writes, the Eastern Cape health department said myths were keeping health workers away from vaccination. Nurses are at the frontline of myth-busting across the province, trying to convince their colleagues to get the jab.

Gauteng’s community action networks reflect on their first year

At the height of lockdown, neighbourhoods across Gauteng formed their own community action networks under the banner of Gauteng Together, taking inspiration from Cape Town Together. They focused on providing food relief during the crisis and about two thirds are still active. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, one of the organisations spearheading the movement, commissioned a report to record progress and find out how to make it sustainable. Read more about the report’s findings here.

Thousands of Zimbabwean immigrants turn to embassy for help

Zimbabwean immigrants are struggling to access the R350 Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant, according to a survey by Zimbabwe Community SA. As Tariro Mashinyira reports, Zimbabwean relief organisations are not able to keep up with the demand for food relief and the Zimbabwean embassy has had 8,000 families asking for help since the start of lockdown.

Inxuba Yethemba municipality wanted to spend Covid-19 funds on its chambers

A provincial investigating team has released a report into the state of the Inxeba Yethema municipality, which supposedly services Cradock and Middelburg. As Estelle Ellis writes, the investigation was prompted by a petition from residents demanding basic service delivery. The report referred many issues to the police for investigation, including a Covid-19-related fumigation contract for the municipal offices. It also found that the council had voted in June 2020 to spend R7-million in Covid-19 emergency funds to renovate its chambers. Councillors were dissuaded from proceeding after it was pointed out that the Treasury would not allow it. MC/DM

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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