As a rebellious teenager growing up in the British town of Harpenden, Professor Helen Rees would sneak out to attend anti-apartheid talks. Today, she is a renowned scientist and chair of South Africa’s medicines regulator. Biénne Huisman chatted to Rees about her career, prioritising women’s reproductive health, and her role at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
Professor Wendy Stevens believes ‘completely in the honesty of science’ and this, she says, has landed her in the naughty corner many times throughout her career. Biénne Huisman spoke to Stevens – a global leader in HIV and TB laboratory medicine about her career, what you choose when science and politics collide, and the value of swimming upstream.
“The results are in: artificial intelligence (AI) outperforms humans at reading chest X-rays for signs of tuberculosis,” proclaimed a recent newsletter of the Stop TB Partnership. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to a variety of experts about the landmark study behind this proclamation and asked what AI-aided X-ray interpretation may mean for countries like South Africa with high TB burdens.
The different types of COVID-19 tests are far from equal. Picking a test is generally a matter of speed versus accuracy and, most importantly, why you need a test and when. What are the limitations of these tests? Is there any quality control? What are the chances of false positives and false negatives? Elsabé Brits surveys the landscape of tests available in South Africa and asks which type is most appropriate in what situation.
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.
Over the last few years reported cases of congenital syphilis in South Africa have increased. This, accompanied by little or lack of notification, makes its management a challenge. Tiyese Jeranji reports on what congenital syphilis is, its management as well as gaps in management.
Cryptococcal meningitis is the second biggest killer of people living with HIV after tuberculosis (TB). Now, a global initiative, the Ending Cryptococcal Meningitis Deaths by 2030 Strategic Framework aims to get the gold standard drug to treat cryptococcal meningitis – flucytosine – registered in countries that need it. Amy Green 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.
Phase two of South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is underway and members of the public are being asked to report any mild, moderate or severe adverse events experienced after receiving their jabs. Adele Baleta explains what the correct way is to report adverse events after vaccination.
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.
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.
In allowing section 21 applications as part of a controlled compassionate access programme, SAHPRA has essentially shifted the responsibility for deciding whether the anti-parasitic ivermectin is safe and effective enough to be used in the treatment of COVID-19 to doctors. This places an enormous responsibility on doctors, writes Adele Baleta.