Government can avoid the overwhelming of health services and minimise death in an anticipated fourth COVID-19 wave in November/December by getting 90% of people in South Africa over 35 years old vaccinated before then. Life could then return to normal by Christmas, even with ongoing SARS-CoV-2 circulation, contends vaccinologist Professor Shabir Madhi.
Dr Nicholas Crisp is a deputy director-general in the National Department of Health and the person responsible for coordinating South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Crisp spoke to Chris Bateman about challenges with the rollout and his wife and daughters getting sick with COVID-19.
Jabs from Johnson & Johnson were central to plans to scale up South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination programme. With news that a first consignment of two million doses cannot be used, it is critical that government play open cards with the public about its revised vaccination plans and timelines and what steps it is taking to procure more vaccines faster.
Government has been criticised for the slow pace of the country’s vaccine rollout which started on 17 May 2021. Elri Voigt spoke to experts to hear what is being done right in this vaccine rollout and where improvements are needed.
While it is uncertain when teachers in the Free State will receive vaccinations during this third wave, the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the province’s schools continues to increase. Refilwe Mochoari reports.
An experimental COVID-19 vaccine currently in Phase I trials being run by the University of Cape Town has a unique design that might allow it to offer better protection against current and future variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Elri Voigt provides an update on the trial and unpacks the science behind this vaccine candidate.
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.
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.
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.