The two vaccines used in South Africa’s vaccination programme, those from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech, have both been shown to be highly effective against COVID-19, particularly in preventing hospitalisation and death. But protection may wane over time and new variants may or may not render these vaccines less effective. Adele Baleta unpacks what we do and do not know about the potential need for booster shots and surveys some of the studies that will help fill the gaps.
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.
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.
It has been over a year since the world saw the first confirmed case of COVID-19, yet the science behind the virus’ physical impact on children remains relatively unclear. Kathryn Cleary spoke to two experts in paediatrics and immunology to get an update on what we have learnt so far.
Government deserves criticism for various aspects of its COVID-19 response, but some social media criticism following Sunday’s announcement that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has little or no efficacy in preventing mild-to-moderate disease caused by the 501Y.V2 variant has been unfair, writes Marcus Low.
The delivery of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available in South Africa will be a complex and costly logistical exercise. Acquiring enough injection devices is part of crucial logistical planning to ensure rapid, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Adele Baleta reports.
While progress in the race for effective COVID-19 vaccines has been rapid and impressive, an effective HIV vaccine remains elusive. As part of Spotlight’s World AIDS Day 2020 coverage, Kathryn Cleary asks two of South Africa’s top vaccine researchers to update us on where we are in the race for an HIV vaccine.
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.