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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The head of the South African arm of a key COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is “full of pride” for the teams’ part in the research which has shown the vaccine candidate to be more than 90% effective according to early findings released this week. It however remains unclear whether the vaccine will be available in South Africa once registered. Adele Baleta reports.