First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

We need so many more of our readers to join them. The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country. We are inundated with tip-offs; we know where to look and what to do with the information when we have it – we just need the means to help us keep doing this work.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Fauci cites possible delay for Moderna booster; South A...



Fauci cites possible delay for Moderna booster; South Africa registers 5,931 new cases

A resident has her vaccine administered at a drive-through Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination site in Pretoria, South Africa, on 18 August 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)
By Bloomberg
05 Sep 2021 0

South Africa registered 5,931 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,819,945. A further 76 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 83,419. A total of 13,454,823 people have been vaccinated.

Anthony Fauci said US booster shots against Covid-19 are likely to start only with the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech, while the Moderna shot may be delayed. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain pushed back against criticism that the Biden administration is rushing booster shots ahead of scientific evidence.

The Group of 20 are set to pledge to do more to tackle the impact of the pandemic on mental health as ministers meet in Rome this weekend.

The UK is looking at requiring vaccine passports for entry to big venues by this month, though has yet to make a decision on shots for healthy schoolchildren. Italy will decide by the end of the month whether vaccines will become mandatory.

Key developments

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 220.4 million; deaths exceed 4.5 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 5.46 billion doses administered
  • Delta surge means this is as good as it gets for global growth
  • They suffered through Covid, and still don’t want the vaccine
  • One vaccine makes more antibodies than another. Does it matter?
  • Battered by Covid, cities fight for survival

Boosters likely to start with Pfizer: Fauci 

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said US booster shots against Covid-19 are likely to start only with the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech, while the Moderna shot may be delayed.

“The bottom line is very likely at least part of the plan will be implemented, but ultimately the entire plan will be,” Anthony Fauci said on Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Fauci’s comments may lead to more clarity on the administration’s stance after Biden ran into resistance by medical experts who advise US regulators over what they view as political interference in the review process. 

Delta peaking in US South, medical dean says

The Delta variant wave is showing signs of peaking in the US South, where it has driven infections and hospitalisations to records, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said. 

The spread in the Midwest is unlikely to be as bad, largely because of higher vaccination rates and tools such as more testing, he said on Fox News Sunday. He also defended President Joe Biden’s drive to widely administer boosters, a plan that has been criticised for getting ahead of scientific evidence. 

“It is clear to me that this is probably going to end up being a three-shot vaccine package,” he said, adding that the evidence was stronger for older and more medically vulnerable people than for the young and healthy.

Biden isn’t rushing boosters, Klain says

President Joe Biden’s administration remains hopeful that booster shots will kick off in the US in about two weeks, though it will need approval by regulators and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said.

Klain pushed back against criticism that Biden is attempting to rush booster shots ahead of scientific evidence. Officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration were involved in setting the week of September 20 target date, he said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

“We still are hopeful that at least one of the vaccinations could be available that date,” Klain said.

Israel to restart tourist group programme 

Israel will restart a pilot programme on September 19 allowing organised tourist groups of five to 30 people to visit the country. Tourists must have proof of a second Israel Health Ministry-recognised vaccination within the past six months, or have had their third vaccination, to qualify for entry.

They will also have to present a negative PCR test and will undergo a serological test at the airport upon landing. The Tourism Ministry said it hopes to allow individual tourists into Israel in the near future.

BOE said to drop staff return policy

The Bank of England has reversed a policy that was scheduled to start in September encouraging staff to return to the office at least one day a week, a person familiar with the matter said.

The BOE has now told staff that there’s no longer an expectation to come in and that they can choose to return on a voluntary basis, the person said. That’s because of a recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the UK. 

Germany’s vaccine contribution

Germany is seeking to provide 100 million vaccine doses to global inoculation efforts by the end of this year, DPA reported on Sunday, citing Health Minister Jens Spahn.

“That’s as much as we’ve used in our country so far,” Spahn said on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting of health ministers in Rome.

Italy to decide on compulsory vaccine

Italy will decide by the end of September whether vaccines will become mandatory for all people aged 12 and over, Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta said. A law will be passed if the country hasn’t reached a vaccination level between 80% and 90%, he said. At the moment, the level is about 71.5%, government data show.

Indonesia’s cases at three-month low

Indonesia reported 5,403 new cases through midday on Sunday, the fewest in three months, despite falling behind on its daily vaccination target. The number of deaths fell to 392, the lowest since June 26.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has targeted delivering 2.3 million vaccine doses per day in September, but administered less than a third of that on Sunday.

G20 to do more to tackle mental health

The Group of 20 is set to pledge more action to tackle the fallout of Covid-19 on mental health, according to a draft statement seen by Bloomberg. Health ministers meeting in Rome this weekend will acknowledge the consequences, from isolation to unemployment to food insecurity, and that the pandemic has exposed gaps in mental health systems.

The impact has disproportionately hit groups including women, older people, persons with disabilities, as well as the poorest and most vulnerable, the draft showed. Ministers will therefore pledge to increase access to services and to better integrate mental health into their broader healthcare systems.

Pfizer safe for cancer patients: study

An Israeli study among 330 actively treated cancer patients found that 88% developed antibodies after two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, compared with 97% among a control group of healthy patients. The researchers measured the antibody response two months after the second inoculation.

The study at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center also found no significant side effects among cancer patients receiving active treatment. The proportion who didn’t develop adequate antibody responses was highest among those receiving chemotherapy as a single drug, compared with those treated with immunotherapy and targeted therapy as single drugs.

German cases now exceed four million

Germany has now recorded more than four million cases since the pandemic began, according to the RKI public health institute. Health officials registered more than 10,400 infections in the 24 hours to Sunday.

UK looking at vaccine passports for big venues

The government is “looking at by the end of September” requiring vaccine certification for entry to large venues where infection risk may be higher, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in an interview with Sky News

He also said the government hasn’t yet decided on whether to roll out vaccines to healthy 12- to 15-year-olds, but if the move does go ahead, then parental consent would be needed.

China reports one asymptomatic patient in Guangdong 

China’s National Health Commission reported one local asymptomatic patient in the southern province of Guangdong on Saturday. 

The country managed to quash an outbreak of the more infectious Delta variant after aggressive curbs, with just a handful of local and asymptomatic cases cropping up in recent days.

Japan to issue online vaccine certificates 

The Japanese government will issue online Covid-19 vaccine certificates from December, Nikkei reported. 

The government plans for the application process and issuance to be conducted via mobile app, according to Nikkei, without citing where it got the information. The certificate will be in the form of a QR code, the report said. 

Local governments currently issue the proof of inoculation in print for those with upcoming overseas travel plans. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has floated its use as a way to allow freer movement, saying the government will consider how to actively use vaccination certificates for reopening bars, restaurants, travel and events. 

Australia aims to end state border closures by Christmas

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has doubled down on his plan to end pandemic lockdowns and state border closures by Christmas, even as rising cases increase the pressure on Sydney’s health-care system. 

“Everyone can make plans for a family Christmas,” Morrison said in an interview with Melbourne’s Herald Sun paper on Sunday. “Nobody wants Covid to be the virus that stole Christmas, and we have a plan and the vaccinations available to ensure that’s not the case.”

Alabama school cases double

Alabama reported almost 9,200 cases over the last week among students and staff, up from about 4,330 the week before, state data released on Friday show. Among the counties reporting the most infections were Jefferson, the state’s most populous, and Mobile, in the southwest, the data show. 

The spike comes as Alabama hits record cases – 33,000 in the week that ended on Friday – and schools are reopening. Despite the lack of state mask mandate, most school districts require masking.  

On Friday, with hospitals overwhelmed, Governor Kay Ivey said she had designated $12.3-million in federal coronavirus relief funds to attract travelling nurses. DM

 With assistance from Shoko Oda, Takahiko Hyuga, James Thornhill, Lucille Liu, Ellen Milligan, Alexander Pearson, Alisa Odenheimer and Tassia Sipahutar.


"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]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted