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21 February 2021

Private sector health workers get a third of first Covid-19 vaccines

Business Day 21 February 2021 - Health workers in the private sector have been allocated one-third of the first batch of 80,000 Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccines

The first private sector health-care worker was vaccinated on Saturday, and by the end of the day 3,000 shots had been administered amid demand "higher than anticipated from doctors and nurses". By Saturday, a total of 10,414 shots had been given across the country, the department reported.  The target is to vaccinate 8,000 health workers a day. 

Medical billing sector threatened with extinction by amendment bill

Business Day 21 February 2021 - Proposed legislation will prohibit the ceding of medical claims to third party administrators

About one-third of the R3.2bn payments made by the Compensation Fund in 2019/2020 went to third parties or agents who act on behalf of medical service providers that choose not to deal directly with the fund. But the ability of medical service providers to use third-party administrators is threatened by proposed amendments to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, which will prohibit the cession of claims against the fund. The fund, which pays for the medical costs incurred for injuries or illnesses suffered at work, is funded by a levy paid for by employers. 

Police seize smuggled ivermectin worth R126m at OR Tambo

Business Day 19 February 2021 - The police are working with Interpol and the Indian authorities to establish the source of drugs some say are effective against Covid-19

SA police have said they seized R126m worth of unregistered medication, believed to be ivermectin, which, in January, regulators cleared  to treat coronavirus patients in a controlled-access programme. Ivermectin has been used for decades to treat livestock infested with parasitic worms, while in humans it’s used as a topical ointment for diseases, skin infections and inflammation. 

Russia offers AU 300-million doses of its Sputnik V vaccine

Business Day 19 February 2021 - The deal also comes with a financing package, and SA has submitted documentation to the medicines regulator for registration of the shot

The AU’s vaccine task-team said on Friday that Russia has offered it 300-million doses of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, along with a financing package for countries wanting to secure the shots. The 55-member AU hopes to see 60% of the continent’s 1.3-billion people immunised over about the next three years. But even as some wealthier nations are well into their immunisation campaigns, just a handful of countries in Africa have started to roll out vaccination programmes. 

‘Most South Africans have had COVID-19′ — National Blood Service study

Medical Brief 17 February 2021 - More than half of South Africans probably have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2, with blacks three-to-five times more likely than white people to have antibodies to the virus, found a SA National Blood Service study.

Despite this, “As has been seen in other areas, even such high seroprevalence does not guarantee population-level immunity against new outbreaks – probably due to viral evolution and waning of antibody neutralisation,” reports the study, which extrapolates  to the entire population an analysis of blood donors. 

SA scientists plan AstraZeneca trial to assess effect on severe disease

Business Day 18 February 2021 - The government’s top Covid-19 vaccine advisers met on Thursday to discuss launching a clinical trial of AstraZeneca’s shot

The trial is designed to answer key questions about the extent to which the jab protects people from severe disease caused by the new variant dominating transmission in SA. “The advice under serious discussion is the idea of rolling out a study to 100,000 [volunteers] so we can look at the impact on hospitalisation,” said Helen Rees, executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute and a member of health minister Zweli Mkhize’s advisory committee on Covid-19 vaccines. 

SA to share AstraZeneca shots with AU

Business Day 16 February 2021 - The 1-million doses already received will be shared with other African nations at no cost to the fiscus

Health department deputy director-general Anban Pillay told Business Day the 1-million doses already received would be shared with other African nations via the AU at no cost to the fiscus. “We plan to recover our costs,” he said. SA paid $5.25 (about R76) per dose for the vaccines. A plan has yet to be devised for the remaining 500,000 doses ordered from the SII, said Pillay. 

Covid variant behind Auckland outbreak,says Jacinda Ardern

Business Day 15 February 2021 - Auckland's nearly 2-million residents start a new lockdown after discovery of more transmissible variant, possibly first detected in the UK

A coronavirus outbreak that sent New Zealand's biggest city into a lockdown over the weekend involved the more transmissible  variant first detected in the UK, health officials confirmed on Monday, the first time the strain has been detected locally. Genome sequencing of two of the cases — all three are immediate family — revealed they were the B1.1.7 variant. 


UK closes in on its 15-million vaccinetarget

Business Day 14 February 2021 - Inoculations are seen as one of the UK government’s few successes in its handling of the pandemic

Britain is on course to hit a target of offering a first vaccine dose against Covid-19 to its 15-million most vulnerable citizens by Monday, increasing pressure on the government to start reopening schools and loosening far-reaching lockdown measures. Britain’s vaccination programme has so far reached more than 14.5-million people and is seen as one of few successes in the government’s handling of a pandemic in which the country has suffered a higher death toll and worse economic damage than its peers. The UK’s total population is about 67-million.