During South Africa’s COVID-19 hard lockdown, rising star scientist Dr Sandile Cele spent his Christmas holidays in a laboratory. Soon the 35-year-old became the first to successfully grow the beta variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. Biénne Huisman spoke to Cele about how he did this, the string of accolades he received since, and his leap from a modest upbringing to the global scientific stage.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the remarkable power of genomics in helping us keep track of new viral variants. Several scientists argue that Africa should continue to invest in genomics to support disease control and public health. Sue Segar asks what this means in practice and why it is considered so critically important.
Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine procured by the South African government have expired and the shot is largely unavailable to people in the country. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. Adele Baleta asks what all this means for COVID-19 in South Africa.
A study published last year on an HIV variant that has been circulating in the Netherlands for the last 20 years reminded the public of the existence of viral variants beyond SARS-CoV-2. Elri Voigt unpacks what we know about the HI-virus, its variants, and the study’s findings.
The Department of Health is not planning to buy the new COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccines, specifically tailored to target Omicron variants, anytime soon. Adele Baleta looks into the reasoning behind this decision.
Top South African HIV clinicians are setting their sights on different approaches to finding an HIV vaccine after the “disappointing” news that the Mosaico trial was stopped early because the vaccine did not show any efficacy. The search for an HIV jab now seems set to pivot from vaccines that induce T-cell immunity to ones that induce B-cell immunity. Adele Baleta unpacks what that means and the reasoning behind it.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) elected new leadership at its recently held seventh national congress. Thabo Molelekwa attended the congress and asked TAC leaders about the organisation’s focus in 2022 and beyond.
Professor Resia Pretorius and her colleagues at the University of Stellenbosch are at the cutting edge of research into one of the most likely causes of long COVID – inflammatory microclots. Adele Baleta spoke to Pretorius about their work.
Indications are that the virus that causes COVID-19 is going to continue evolving and escaping the protection against infection people already have. Researchers are working on next-generation vaccines tailored to fight off specific versions of the virus, like the Omicron sub-lineages BA.4 and BA.5. But can these new vaccines be tested and produced fast enough to keep up with the rapidly changing virus? Aisha Abdool Karim asked some local experts.
Omicron and its sub-variants have been dominating new surges of SARS-CoV-2 infections around the world and were behind South Africa’s fifth wave. The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages unveiled yet more surprises about the evasive nature of these ever-emerging forms of SARS-CoV-2. They also hold clues for what to expect next and how to prepare. Aisha Abdool Karim reports.
The risk of a hospitalised person dying from COVID-19 in the Eastern Cape was almost double the risk of someone dying of the disease in the Western Cape, according to a study published in the South African Journal of Science. Adele Baleta unpacks the study’s rich set of findings on hospitalisation and death in South Africa.
South African bioinformatics expert Professor Tulio de Oliveira was recently honoured with Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people award. Biénne Huisman sat down with him to talk about his part in the discovery of new COVID-19 variants, his chats with the President, and the treasure trove of scientific research excellence in Africa.