Important TB drug as effective at lower dose, study finds

Important TB drug as effective at lower dose, study finds

The treatment of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis has been transformed over the last decade with treatment becoming more effective, safer, and treatment duration in many cases dropping to under a year. Even so, treatment can still come with serious side effects and for some, it can still last over a year and a half. In a finding that may help further reduce side effects, new research has found that the dosage of a key drug can be lowered without compromising how well it works. Tiyese Jeranji and Marcus Low report.

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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.

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In-depth: Can CHWs help expand access to mental health services in SA?

In-depth: Can CHWs help expand access to mental health services in SA?

Over 30% of those living in South Africa have experienced a depressive, anxiety, or substance use disorder in their lifetime, according to a national survey. Yet studies show only 15% of those with mental health conditions receive treatment. Laura Owings explores what role community healthcare workers can play in addressing this lack of access to care.

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In Focus: Global strategy to end Cryptococcal Meningitis in people living with HIV

In Focus: Global strategy to end Cryptococcal Meningitis in people living with HIV

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.

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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.

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COVID-19: Do I still need to wear a mask when vaccinated, and other questions

COVID-19: Do I still need to wear a mask when vaccinated, and other questions

With the COVID-19 mass vaccination rollout set to start on 17 May, many more people, for now, those older than 60 years, will receive their jabs. Elri Voigt looked into what, if anything, will change for those who have been vaccinated, and what other countries have done in this regard.

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How vaccine safety is monitored in SA

How vaccine safety is monitored in SA

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.

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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.

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Editorial: Pieces finally slotting into place for mass vaccination in SA

Editorial: Pieces finally slotting into place for mass vaccination in SA

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.

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Analysis: How do you price a life-saving vaccine during a pandemic?

Analysis: How do you price a life-saving vaccine during a pandemic?

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.

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Tens of thousands of people with TB in SA not diagnosed, survey

Tens of thousands of people with TB in SA not diagnosed, survey

Over 150 000 people who had TB in South Africa in 2018 were not diagnosed, according to findings from South Africa’s long-awaited National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey. One reason for this is that an unexpectedly high number of people do not show the typical TB symptoms and are never x-rayed. Amy Green reports.

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400 people in SA with highly drug-resistant TB to get new three-drug regimen

400 people in SA with highly drug-resistant TB to get new three-drug regimen

Treating highly drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis can take anything from nine to 24 months and patients have to contend with various unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, side effects. A new six-month regimen made up of just three drugs that will be offered to 400 patients in South Africa might offer a better solution for some. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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