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.
Omicron and its sub-variants have been dominating new surges of SARS-CoV-2 infections around the world and were behind South Africa’s fifth wave. The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages unveiled yet more surprises about the evasive nature of these ever-emerging forms of SARS-CoV-2. They also hold clues for what to expect next and how to prepare. Aisha Abdool Karim reports.
South African bioinformatics expert Professor Tulio de Oliveira was recently honoured with Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people award. Biénne Huisman sat down with him to talk about his part in the discovery of new COVID-19 variants, his chats with the President, and the treasure trove of scientific research excellence in Africa.
The new and more contagious Delta variant has now surpassed the Beta variant to become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in South Africa. Laura Lopez Gonzalez pulled together answers to eight common questions asked about this new variant.