Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS

NICD confirms 5,096 new Covid infections in SA on Tuesday

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One in five people testing for coronavirus infections on Tuesday had a positive result, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ (NICD’s) Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said there were 5,096 new cases of Covid-19 in South Africa on Tuesday. This brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,899,841. The increase represents a 20.9% positivity rate. 

The National Department of Health on Tuesday reported another 41 deaths due to Covid-19 related complications, of which 12 had occurred in the previous 24 hours. 

The majority of new cases on Tuesday were from Gauteng (36%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (19%), the Western Cape (18%) and the Eastern Cape (11%). 

The latest genomic surveillance report, tracing variants and subvariants of SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa, states that Omicron still dominates, with sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 increasing in prevalence in March (16%), and together they were dominant in April (64%). 

BA.4 and BA.5 made up 96% of May sequences, but more data is needed to determine the prevalence. BA.3 continues to be detected at low levels. 

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Meanwhile, South Africa’s Sisonke team, led by professors Glenda Gray and Linda-Gail Bekker, published one of the first real-world studies on vaccine effectiveness against the Omicron variant in the New England Journal of Medicine on 4 May. 

The Sisonke study made the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available early to health workers in South Africa – both for a first dose and for a booster dose.

The study found that a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine  protected participants from hospitalisation and admission to intensive care units by up to 82% in the first two months after the second dose, compared with unvaccinated populations. 

This analysis was possible after 240,000 Sisonke study participants received their second Johnson & Johnson vaccine in November and December 2021, when the Omicron variant caused the fourth wave in South Africa. 

Gray, the lead author of the study, said: “The Sisonke study has contributed globally to data on both safety and effectiveness even against current variants of concern, and forms the backbone of the roll-out of the vaccine.” 

Bekker said: “There is great utility of a single dose of the J&J vaccine in emergency situations, but it is very reassuring in this study to see two doses of J&J [performing] equally well [as] two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and that once again our vaccines are protecting, despite the Omicron variant.” DM/MC

 

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