Women in Health: Vaccine safety Prof on her passion for making a difference

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many committees and organisations were working around the clock to prepare the country for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Professor Hannelie Meyer, a pharmacist-turned-academic and later vaccine advocate, served on several of these committees. Elri Voigt spoke to Meyer about the pandemic, the mottos that guide her, and being an unapologetic workaholic.

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Face to Face: Prof Helen Rees on SAHPRA, women’s rights, and her appetite for justice

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.

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COVID-19: The role of next-generation vaccines in immunity

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.

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We need to vaccinate 90% of over-35s – Madhi

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.

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Efforts to vaccinate the homeless stumbling over red tape

South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination programme currently requires that people enter an identity number when registering on government’s electronic system and present an identity document when they go to get jabbed. This makes it hard for homeless people without IDs to get vaccinated. Siyabonga Kamnqa reports from the streets of Cape Town.

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