The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to think global and build locally. The African innovative pharmaceutical sector has the potential to thrive and needs more incentive to grow. A blooming continental sector would serve as a critical and secure source for key vaccines and therapeutics, reducing the need to rely on the goodwill of donors, writes Professor Kelly Chibale.
Developing COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year came from repurposing multiple, decade-old vaccine research platforms, but too many lives were lost, and a new goal of developing vaccines in 100 days is needed to counter the next global pathogen, experts say.
In late January, Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director-General in South Africa’s National Department of Health, revealed that South Africa would pay more than double the price paid by the European Union (EU) for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. This set off a flurry of questions on how vaccine prices are set and why, in many cases, the prices themselves are not known to the public. Catherine Tomlinson takes a closer look at the issues involved.
Local scientists, as part of an international research collaboration, identified chemical compounds with antitubercular and anti-cancer properties that could potentially help in the fight against malaria. The compounds could halt a malaria parasite in its tracks during different stages of the parasite’s life cycle. Kathryn Cleary interviewed two of the researchers about the scientific discovery and the teamwork and infrastructure that made it possible.
South Africa is set to produce its first vaccine in 25 years, but it won’t be a COVID-19 jab. Plans are however in place to “fill and finish” COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa. Laura Lopez Gonzalez has the details.
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.
In recent months, the world has seen unprecedented investment in new vaccines. Yet, while a COVID-19 vaccine proven to be safe and effective may be less than a year away, a new tuberculosis vaccine might only be ready to be rolled out in a decade, despite a massive head start over COVID-19. Amy Green takes a closer look at the race for a new vaccine for the world’s top infectious disease killer.
Two years after it was announced that the ARV dolutegravir would become part of standard first line HIV treatment in South Africa, it is finally reaching significant numbers of people. But new research about a worrying side-effect, weight gain (particularly in women), has muddied its otherwise stellar reputation.
People in South Africa who have recovered from COVID-19 are donating their blood to help others who are trying to fight off the disease that has so far claimed over 200 lives and infected over 10 000 people in the country.
Many journalists, including us, are finding the quantity of science reports on COVID-19 overwhelming. We introduce a new occasional column to help make sense of the information overload. The aim of this occasional column, which we’re calling COVID-19 Report, will be to alert reporters in South Africa (and anyone else who is interested) to the best and most important science, and also clear up misconceptions.
Scientific research on COVID-19 has been published at an unprecedented scale and speed, but some fear that this is at the cost of scientific rigour. Adele Baleta explores the pros and cons of high-speed science.