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11 April 2021

Labour criticises state’s slow Covid-19 vaccination rollout

Business Day 09 April 2021 - Zweli Mkhize told union leaders there had been ‘a bit of a lull’ about information on the vaccination programme as they were still in talks with vaccine manufacturers

Labour federation Cosatu has upped the ante in its demands for the ramping up of the government's Covid-19 vaccination rollout, which it says is proceeding too slowly. The national vaccination drive will be the biggest in SA’s history, and aims to inoculate 40-million adults to reach herd immunity. However, it has yet to get fully under way as commercial stocks secured from vaccine manufacturers have yet to be delivered. During the virtual briefing Mkhize told the union leaders that in the past three weeks there had been “a bit of a lull” regarding information on the vaccination programme as they were still in negotiations with vaccine manufacturing companies. “Everything was fluid,” he said adding that it had taken a while to secure all the vaccines from the manufacturers. 

J&J vaccine under EU review over after four cases of blood clotting

Business Day 09 April 2021 - The European Medicines Agency says there is, as yet, no causal link and J&J is working with regulators to assess the data more thoroughly

Europe’s drug regulator has said it is reviewing reports of rare blood clots in four people who received Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine and has expanded its probe into AstraZeneca’s shot to include reports of a bleeding condition. Of the four serious cases of clotting and low platelets, three occurred in the US during the rollout of J&J’s vaccine from its Janssen unit, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday, adding that one person had died and that one case was reported in a clinical trial.  

State expects first J&J and Pfizer jabs to be delivered in next two weeks

Business Day 08 April 2021 - Combined with supplies expected from Pfizer before end-April, this will enable government to finish vaccinating healthcare workers

The government expects to take delivery of its first one-million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s commercially produced Covid-19 vaccine in two weeks time, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Thursday. Combined with supplies expected from Pfizer before the end of April, this will enable the government to finish vaccinating healthcare workers and move into the next stage of inoculating the over 60s, he said. The government’s vaccination programme is slowly gathering momentum, after it was dealt a major blow in February with the discovery that its initial vaccine of choice — AstraZeneca’s shot — offered only minimal protection against mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 caused by a new coronavirus variant that now dominates transmission in SA. 

AstraZeneca vaccine woes grow as more countries limit its use

Business Day 08 April 2021 - Australia and the Philippines, the AU and several European countries have either suspended or set age limits on using the Covid-19 vaccine

Australia and the Philippines limited use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, while the AU dropped plans to buy the shot, dealing further blows to the company’s hopes to deliver a vaccine for the world. The vaccine — developed with Oxford University and considered a front-runner in the global vaccine race — has been plagued by safety concerns and supply problems since phase 3 trial results were published in December, with Indonesia the latest country forced to seek doses from other vaccine developers. The Philippines suspended the use of AstraZeneca shots for people younger than 60 after Europe’s regulator said on Wednesday it found rare cases of blood clots among some adult recipients, though the vaccine’s advantages still outweighed its risks. 

India recording more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases a day

Business Day 08 April 2021 - Cases have soared 13-fold in less than two months as flouting of health protocols, even by politicians, has proved disastrous

India’s Covid-19 cases have soared 13-fold in barely two months, a vicious second wave propelled by open disregard for safety protocols in much of the vast country. Election rallies led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other major figures, as well as crowded festivals and religious gatherings, have characterised the record resurgence of the coronavirus. After quelling the first surge late last year, India’s leaders let down their guard. Allowing or even encouraging dangerous behaviour, they underestimated the virus, reopening the economy too fast and too broadly, experts say. 

5 years on, Gauteng Health is still missing 8 Esidimeni patients

Medical Brief 21 April 2021 - Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi has admitted that her department was still searching for eight mental health patients who were reported missing at Life Esidimeni, almost five years ago.

She said a case of missing patients had been opened with the police to assist in locating them saying her department was continuously checking for the patients at all facilities in case new information emerged. According to Mokgethi, the reason for the delay was due to the fact that it was “difficult and time consuming to trace for patients” if their personal information was not available. 


Ivermectin climbdown comes with multimillion price tag for SAHPRA and DoH

Medical Brief 07 April 2021 - A settlement agreement with the four groups that had gone to court to contest the ban on the medicine was this week made an order of the court, with SAHPRA and the Department of Health agreeing to pay the litigants almost R2m in costs.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) settlement agreement opens the way for the compounding of and access to the drug, reports News24. The settlement in four different cases, has effectively provided another avenue to access the drug other than applying to use it through the SAHPRA compassionate programme, reports Daily Maverick. 

UK says alternative to AstraZeneca vaccine advised for under-30s

Business Day 07 April 2021 - Despite being ‘vanishingly rare’, serious brain blood-clotting has occurred in some who have received this Covid-19 shot

Britain should give an alternative to Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to under-30s where possible due to a “vanishingly” rare side effect of blood clots in the brain, Britain’s vaccine advisory committee said on Wednesday. Safety concerns have prompted more than a dozen countries in recent weeks to suspend use of the vaccine, which has been given to tens of millions of people in Europe, after reports linking it to a brain blood-clotting disorder in a few dozen recipients. Wei Shen Lim, chair of Britain’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), said that, based on the available data and evidence, the committee has advised it is preferable for adults under 30 with no underlying conditions to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine when available. 

Coronavirus fights a war of lungs and minds, new research shows

Business Day 07 April 2021 - Neurological and mental disorders may afflict up to a third of Covid-19 survivors

One in three Covid-19 survivors in a study of more than 230,000 mostly US patients were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months, suggesting the pandemic could lead to a wave of mental and neurological problems, scientists said on Tuesday. Researchers who conducted the analysis said it was not clear how the virus was linked to psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, but that these were the most common diagnoses among the 14 disorders they looked at. Post-Covid cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, the researchers said, but were still significant, especially in those who had severe Covid-19. 

Europe’s third wave: ‘It’s spreading fast and it’s spreading everywhere’

Business Day 07 April 2021 - Hospitals fill up across the continent as a new variant proliferates and vaccine shortages bite

More than a year after the start of the pandemic, Europe is enduring a grim spring. Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths are rising in many countries as the continent grapples with a more infectious variant, a shortage of vaccines and public weariness with lockdowns. In France “the epidemic is spreading fast, and it’s spreading everywhere”, Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament on Thursday after President Emmanuel Macron announced the country’s third nationwide lockdown, which includes travel restrictions and school closures and extends a 7pm-6am curfew. In two weeks, Castex said, the number of recorded new cases in France had risen 55% to about 38,000 a day. 

WHO against vaccine passports for international travel

Business Day 06 April 2021 - World Health Organization says its concerns include discrimination and a lack of clarity on whether vaccines prevent transmission

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not back requiring vaccination passports for travel due to uncertainty over whether inoculation prevents transmission of the virus, as well as equity concerns, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. “WHO is saying at this stage we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because we are not certain at this stage that the vaccine prevents transmission,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said.