High hopes for deal to unlock local COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing

High hopes for deal to unlock local COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing

On Monday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will host the first World Health Organization-backed COVID-19 mRNA vaccine Technology Transfer Hub – an initiative designed to get the production of mRNA vaccines off the ground in Africa. Parties involved in the hub expect to hear as early as next week whether pharmaceutical companies with mRNA COVID-vaccines for COVID-19 on the market – Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech – will share their know-how with the hub. Chris Bateman reports for Spotlight.

Read More

Opinion: The President must rise above petty politics and appoint a Health Minister fit to fight our current crisis

Opinion: The President must rise above petty politics and appoint a Health Minister fit to fight our current crisis

While the Digital Vibes scandal has no doubt presented President Cyril Ramaphosa with a massive headache, it has also presented him with an opportunity. In appointing a new Minister of Health, he can set South Africa’s COVID-19 response on a sounder footing. We should soon know whether this is an opportunity he is ready to take, writes Spotlight editor Marcus Low.

Read More

In-depth: What will it take to actually make mRNA vaccines in SA

In-depth: What will it take to actually make mRNA vaccines in SA

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.

Read More

Analysis: The politics and promise behind a proposed pandemic treaty

Analysis: The politics and promise behind a proposed pandemic treaty

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.

Read More

Opinion: President Ramaphosa, we still don’t have ambulances in Xhora Mouth

Opinion: President Ramaphosa, we still don’t have ambulances in Xhora Mouth

Six years after the South African Human Rights Commission held hearings into access to emergency medical services in the Eastern Cape little has changed for the people of Xhora Mouth, writes Phumzile Msaro.

Read More

Opinion: WTO waiver is important, but so is fixing SA’s outdated patent laws

Opinion: WTO waiver is important, but so is fixing SA’s outdated patent laws

The World Trade Organization TRIPS council is expected to vote on South Africa and India’s proposed patent waiver on 10 or 11 March which could, if granted, help countries to scale up production of COVID-19 vaccines. But, while the waiver is important, argues Julia Chaskalson, it is also urgent that South Africa should amend its outdated domestic patent laws.

Read More

COVID-19: Are foreign nationals being left behind?

COVID-19: Are foreign nationals being left behind?

Some foreign nationals in South Africa, their community leaders, human rights lawyers and activists are concerned that their health needs are falling through the cracks. This was compounded during lockdown with some foreign nationals claiming they were refused healthcare and others now concerned they will be excluded from the vaccine rollout. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.

Read More

Interview: From humble beginnings to vaccinating the President

Interview: From humble beginnings to vaccinating the President

On 17 February Sr Milanie Bennett administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Bienne Huisman tracked her down to learn more about her long journey to this historical moment.

Read More

COVID-19: Western Cape and Gauteng prepare for the peak

COVID-19: Western Cape and Gauteng prepare for the peak

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called the COVID-19 pandemic the gravest crisis in the country’s democratic history. Now, with the Western Cape and Gauteng making up nearly 64 percent of the country’s total confirmed infections, Kathryn Cleary asked departments of health in both provinces how prepared they are for the coming peak.

Read More

COVID-19: What the pandemic is like for older persons living in poor communities

COVID-19: What the pandemic is like for older persons living in poor communities

Already at an increased risk of serious COVID-19 illness, older persons in poor communities face an additional set of difficulties in staying safe and healthy. Siyabonga Kamnqa spoke to older people, experts, civil society organisations and government authorities on what can be done to protect older people.

Read More

Op-ed: President Ramaphosa should support the COVID-19 IP pool

Op-ed: President Ramaphosa should support the COVID-19 IP pool

Having pressed the imperative of equitable global sharing of COVID-19 health products, President Ramaphosa must now declare support for the Intellectual Property Pool for COVID-19, argues Professor Yousuf Vawda & Professor Brook K Baker.

Read More

80 Academics urge President Ramaphosa to expedite changes to SA’s patent laws

80 Academics urge President Ramaphosa to expedite changes to SA’s patent laws

As the confirmed number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa climbs toward 20 000, a group of 80 leading academics, teachers and researchers have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to urge reform of South Africa’s Patents Act. We republish the letter in full.

Read More