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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OPINION: The promise of a financial boost for TB programmes – where to from here?

South Africa’s new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs 2023-2028 and the country’s TB Recovery Plan necessitate a sharp increase in TB testing and increased enrolment into care, which will require additional spending on testing and medicines. Sihle Mahonga Ndawonde argues that a joint committee should be set up to review and interrogate provincial departments’ resource allocation decisions for the next three years.

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Opinion: Making good on the promise of SA’s TB Recovery Plan

The South African TB Recovery Plan was developed to try and reverse the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s TB response. On World TB Day, authors from TB Proof (a leading TB activist group) assess how the recovery is going and identify four key areas where further intervention is needed.

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Supply issues delaying wider rollout of shorter TB preventive therapy

South Africa’s recently published guidelines for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) infection have been welcomed by several experts. Among others, the guidelines endorse the use of a three-month course of TB preventive therapy as opposed to the old six-month course. But, while the intention is to roll out the three-month course quite widely, supply constraints may delay things. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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OPINION: Underinvestment in healthcare infrastructure will cost us in the long run

Investment in public health facilities is crucial as the country weathers storms on various fronts – from drought (water shortages) and flooding putting strain on health infrastructure to a harsh economic climate that makes private healthcare unaffordable to more and more people. Mbali Baduza and Matshidiso Lencoasa assess the investments in infrastructure in the budget and what it means for the planned National Health Insurance system.

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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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As with COVID-19, the effects of TB can linger long after it is cured

According to the World Health Organization, of the roughly 10 million people who fall ill with TB annually, over 80% survive, in most cases due to a six-month treatment course. Unfortunately, as with long COVID, being cured is not always the last hurdle and many people go on to struggle with post-TB lung disease. Tiyese Jeranji asked local experts about this sometimes-neglected area of TB care.

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