Over five million people in South Africa have so far received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Elri Voigt unpacks how the vaccination rollout is going in South Africa’s nine provinces. Though the numbers do not tell the full story and provinces face different challenges, indications are that Limpopo, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal are doing well, while Mpumalanga is struggling.
Thousands of healthcare contract workers in the Eastern Cape Department of Health face an uncertain future over the continued extension of their contracts. This follows two conflicting decisions on ending contracts of workers roped in February last year to help in the fight against COVID-19 in the province. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.
Refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and undocumented people are estimated to make up around 4 million of the people living in South Africa. That is nearly 7% of the country’s total population yet there is still no clarity on the process to register and vaccinate undocumented people.
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.
When South Africa’s rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine was put on hold in early February, a scramble ensued to ensure healthcare workers could be protected. Chris Bateman spoke to Professor Glenda Gray about the behind-the-scenes negotiations that helped secure 500 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – almost all of which have now been used in the Sisonke study.
Starting now, hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines will be arriving in South Africa weekly. Rather than spending energy and resources policing who gets them, we should be focusing on getting the vaccines as fast as possible into willing arms. Don’t try to micro-manage the rollout, writes Nathan Geffen and Marcus Low.
COVID-19 numbers have in recent weeks been rising in the Free State, leading some to fear that the province might be at the beginning of a third wave of infections. Refilwe Mochoari asked the Department of Health, unions, and opposition political parties whether the province is ready for a third wave.
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.
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.
Strict monitoring and surveillance systems for the safety of all vaccines, including those for COVID-19, are in place during vaccine trials as well as once vaccines are rolled out more widely. Adele Baleta takes a look at how vaccine-related adverse events are monitored in South Africa.