At Madwaleni Hospital in the rural Eastern Cape, vaccinations of health workers were set to start this week. However, steering this rural hospital to this point through a global pandemic, had its challenges. Bienne Huisman spoke to one doctor about how they made it through the first and second waves of the pandemic.
25 heads of state, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, have called for the creation of an international pandemic treaty to strengthen global capacity to predict and respond to pandemic threats. But what should we make of this development, given that existing treaties have often been ignored during the COVID-19 crisis and recent efforts toward a research and development treaty for health products have floundered, asks Catherine Tomlinson.
Within the next month or so we will be switching gears from the comparatively small-scale trial run of Sisonke to a full-on mass vaccination programme. As with the onset of a new wave of infections, this presents a dramatic shift in the pandemic and our response to it – although in this case, the shift is finally a good thing, writes Spotlight editor Marcus Low.
Following a decline in childhood immunisations during the COVID-19 hard lockdown last year, a nationwide catch-up drive was launched in November. Government is not sharing all the data on how the drive is going, but the data that we have been able to access shows that some important catch-up targets are being missed.
Spotlight first interviewed physician and infectious diseases specialist Dr Arifa Parker in May last year as South Africa’s first wave of COVID-19 was building up. Eleven very difficult months later, Bienne Huisman checks in with Parker to hear how things are going on the frontlines at Tygerberg Hospital.
Biopharmaceuticals are therapeutic drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics in which the active ingredient is produced in a living substance such as eggs or tobacco plants. The living substance acts as a ‘miniature factory’ in which the active ingredient is grown and replicated. Catherine Tomlinson takes a deep dive into the fascinating research and other initiatives in South Africa aimed at spurring local production of these products – and asks why a Cape Town-based company opted to set up a manufacturing plant in Mauritius rather than at home.
It is a hundred years since the BCG vaccine, the only registered vaccine proven to offer some protection against tuberculosis (TB), was first used in people. Now researchers in South Africa are at the forefront of clinical trials testing experimental new TB vaccines. Adele Baleta reports.
South Africa is likely headed for a third wave of COVID-19 infections, experts warn. With no windfall of vaccines in sight, many people at high risk of COVID-19 will remain unvaccinated. Now some doctors and medical ethicists are asking: Is a safe vaccine that could possibly protect them better than nothing?
As the first two waves of COVID-19 swept through South Africa hospitals and healthcare workers were under huge pressure. Siyabonga Kamnqa spoke to some medical students about their involvement in a Western Cape volunteer programme to help out at health facilities.
With just a tap of a finger, some people with drug-resistant tuberculosis can get in touch with a counsellor to get support over the phone. Tiyese Jeranji looks at a telephone support project that has helped keep some people with TB connected with their healthcare workers during the most difficult periods of the COVID-19 pandemic.