Growing the beta variant – young scientist remembers the day they danced in the lab

Growing the beta variant – young scientist remembers the day they danced in the lab

During South Africa’s COVID-19 hard lockdown, rising star scientist Dr Sandile Cele spent his Christmas holidays in a laboratory. Soon the 35-year-old became the first to successfully grow the beta variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. Biénne Huisman spoke to Cele about how he did this, the string of accolades he received since, and his leap from a modest upbringing to the global scientific stage.

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In-depth: Are measles, mumps, and diphtheria outbreaks harbingers of worse to come?

In-depth: Are measles, mumps, and diphtheria outbreaks harbingers of worse to come?

So far this year the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has issued reports on three different outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases – measles, mumps, and diphtheria. Elri Voigt spoke to local experts about these outbreaks and what it tells us about the country’s immunisation programme and the potential for future outbreaks.

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Groote Schuur Hospital clears backlog of 1 500 surgeries

Groote Schuur Hospital clears backlog of 1 500 surgeries

Much of South Africa’s public health sector is plagued by long waiting times for surgery, a situation that was made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, an inspiring project at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town has reached its target of slashing its backlog by 1 500 surgeries. Elri Voigt reports.

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COVID-19: What next as shots expire and become harder to get?

COVID-19: What next as shots expire and become harder to get?

Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine procured by the South African government have expired and the shot is largely unavailable to people in the country. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. Adele Baleta asks what all this means for COVID-19 in South Africa.

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Ramaphosa proclaims ‘health revolution’ at second presidential health summit

Ramaphosa proclaims ‘health revolution’ at second presidential health summit

Round two of the Presidential Health Summit centred on getting closer to realising National Health Insurance, but the question of how to do this remains murky. Ufrieda Ho reports.

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Why SA is not getting the new bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccines

Why SA is not getting the new bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccines

The Department of Health is not planning to buy the new COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccines, specifically tailored to target Omicron variants, anytime soon. Adele Baleta looks into the reasoning behind this decision.

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Progress in Charlotte Maxeke recovery, but HR and other problems persist

Progress in Charlotte Maxeke recovery, but HR and other problems persist

It is a race against the clock to keep to the timetable for repairs at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. This as Gauteng’s public healthcare needs mount and the challenges of alleged criminal activity and inefficiencies at the hospital persist. Ufrieda Ho reports.

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HIV vaccine research set to change focus in wake of Mosaico disappointment

HIV vaccine research set to change focus in wake of Mosaico disappointment

Top South African HIV clinicians are setting their sights on different approaches to finding an HIV vaccine after the “disappointing” news that the Mosaico trial was stopped early because the vaccine did not show any efficacy. The search for an HIV jab now seems set to pivot from vaccines that induce T-cell immunity to ones that induce B-cell immunity. Adele Baleta unpacks what that means and the reasoning behind it.

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OPINION: Health in 2023 – 13 things to look out for

OPINION: Health in 2023 – 13 things to look out for

2023 is set to be another tumultuous year for healthcare services, health policy, and governance in South Africa. We’ve picked 13 things to look out for this year arranged under three broad headings: leadership and governance, policy and legislation, and HIV, TB and the NSP.

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OPINION:  2022’s health budget decisions in review

OPINION: 2022’s health budget decisions in review

Health budgets have the power to advance access to healthcare for millions of people in South Africa. This year, however, as the health sector and the economy recovered from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a volatile global environment, the South African government missed opportunities to provide the financial resources to protect access to healthcare for the most vulnerable. Matshidiso Lencoasa unpacks how the past year’s budget choices will affect key public health services.

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Spotlight on Health: 2022 in under 1 000 words

Spotlight on Health: 2022 in under 1 000 words

An HIV prevention injection approved in South Africa, several promising developments on the tuberculosis front, the National Health Insurance Bill grinding its way through Parliament, no end in sight to healthcare worker shortages, another dire year for health in Gauteng – Spotlight wraps up 2022 in under 1 000 words.

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Face to Face: Prof Helen Rees on SAHPRA, women’s rights, and her appetite for justice

Face to Face: Prof Helen Rees on SAHPRA, women’s rights, and her appetite for justice

As a rebellious teenager growing up in the British town of Harpenden, Professor Helen Rees would sneak out to attend anti-apartheid talks. Today, she is a renowned scientist and chair of South Africa’s medicines regulator. Biénne Huisman chatted to Rees about her career, prioritising women’s reproductive health, and her role at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

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