Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, such as the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, have been hailed for their manufacturing advantages over conventional vaccines – so much so that African leaders such as President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for mRNA production capacity to be developed in Africa. Catherine Tomlinson examines why mRNA vaccines are easier to make than some other types of vaccines and asks what it will take to build such production capacity.
On 17 May South Africa’s mass COVID-19 vaccination programme is expected to finally kick off. This will start a long race against the clock in which every day and every vaccination matters. We should aim to administer at least 250 000 vaccine doses a day, writes Spotlight editor Marcus Low.
Provinces manage the day-to-day running of the public healthcare system in South Africa and provinces will be responsible for the massive logistical effort of getting COVID-19 vaccines from fridges and depots into people’s arms. Elri Voigt has been keeping track of the nine provinces’ plans.
It has been over a year since the world saw the first confirmed case of COVID-19, yet the science behind the virus’ physical impact on children remains relatively unclear. Kathryn Cleary spoke to two experts in paediatrics and immunology to get an update on what we have learnt so far.
Government deserves criticism for various aspects of its COVID-19 response, but some social media criticism following Sunday’s announcement that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has little or no efficacy in preventing mild-to-moderate disease caused by the 501Y.V2 variant has been unfair, writes Marcus Low.
Local researchers have welcomed impressive phase III findings for the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine published this week in the Lancet medical journal. It is the sixth COVID-19 vaccine found to be effective in preliminary data from a phase III randomised controlled trial and the fourth to have phase III findings published in a leading medical journal.
While progress in the race for effective COVID-19 vaccines has been rapid and impressive, an effective HIV vaccine remains elusive. As part of Spotlight’s World AIDS Day 2020 coverage, Kathryn Cleary asks two of South Africa’s top vaccine researchers to update us on where we are in the race for an HIV vaccine.
Before any COVID-19 vaccines can be made available in South Africa, they must be authorised by South Africa’s medicines regulator—the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). Catherine Tomlinson explores how SAHPRA is preparing to review and authorise the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and the different authorisation approaches they may use.