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27 September 2021
SA has exited the third coronavirus wave, NICD confirm 

Business Day 27 September 2021 – The national seven-day moving average, test positivity rate and the testing rate are all falling, says National Institute for Communicable Diseases 

SA has officially exited its third wave of coronavirus infections, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). The national seven-day moving average of new daily recorded cases, the test positivity rate and the testing rate were all falling, with sustained decreases reported in all provinces, the NICD said in a statement issued on Sunday night. “Nationally we have exited the third wave according to the current definition,” it said. The coronavirus pandemic has hit SA harder than any other African country, with more than 2.9-million recorded cases and more than 87,000 registered deaths from Covid-19, with local experts estimating the true mortality at about three times this figure. 

Vaccinated pregnant women pass protection to babies, study shows 

Business Day 27 September 2021 - Of 36 newborns tested at birth all had antibodies after their mothers were vaccinated 

Pregnant women who get mRNA vaccines pass high levels of antibodies to their babies, according to a study published in American Journal of Obstetrics & gynaecology — Maternal Fetal Medicine on Wednesday. The study, one of the first to measure antibody levels in umbilical cord blood to distinguish whether immunity is from infection or vaccines, found that 36 newborns tested at birth all had antibodies to protect against Covid-19 after their mothers were vaccinated with shots from Pfizer-BioNTech SE or Moderna. The data could help encourage more women to get vaccinated during their pregnancies. Only 30% of pregnant women ages 18 to 49 are vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention data from September 11, despite growing evidence of prenatal vaccine safety. Given the study’s small sample size, the team is now looking at results from a larger group, as well as how long immunisation lasts for infants after birth. 

Shortage of J&J vaccines hampers SA’s vaccination drive 

Business Day 26 September 2021- Difficulties stem from problems in April at the group’s factory in Baltimore in the US 

SA’s already stalled Covid-19 vaccination programme is being further held back by a critical shortage of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines, an aftermath of the problems the company’s factory in Baltimore, US, experienced in April. While there are plenty of the two-dose Pfizer vaccines available, the shortage of J&J vaccines, which is expected to be overcome with the delivery of doses next month, has affected the vaccination programme in remote rural areas and other sites where a single dose is optimal, acting department of health director-general Nicholas Crisp said last week. “It has been a very difficult patch and we are obviously impacted by it and anxious,” he said. Crisp was appointed acting director-general to replace Sandile Buthelezi, who went on two weeks leave to prepare answers after question were raised about the irregular R150m Digital Vibes contract. Buthelezi has now been placed on precautionary suspension. Crisp said in an interview that while SA had expected to receive J&J vaccines from May, nothing had been received in May and June and 1,5m short expiry doses were received in July. “Since then it (delivery) has been very poor,” he said. 

SA-born billionaire to plough money into local vaccine manufacturing 

Business Day 26 September 2021 - Numolux expects the ‘fill-and-finish’ factory to produce 100-million doses a year once it is operating at full capacity SA-born philanthropist, doctor and cancer drug inventor Patrick Soon-Shiong is investing about R3bn in SA and sharing three decades worth of oncology and immune research expertise with local research institutions to create high-level cancer and Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing capabilities in SA. 

Soon-Shiong will partner with the universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, KwaZulu-Natal and Wits, the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. SA has had almost no investment in vaccine manufacturing. Soon-Shiong’s company, NantWorks, is building a facility in the Western Cape to undertake vaccine manufacturing and research and develop cancer drugs that can also be given as vaccines. 

More than 200,000 miners vaccinated 

Business Day 26 September 2021 - Mining industry sets target of 80% vaccination level in the coming weeks Minerals Council SA says it has reached a milestone of 200,000 employees and service providers vaccinated against Covid-19. 

CEO Roger Baxter said 203,007 people have been immunised, or about 45% of the workforce in the mining industry. Baxter said the support from unions such as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa played a major role in helping reach this target. “As an industry, we have set ourselves a target of achieving 80% vaccination in the coming weeks. With some companies already reporting between 70% and 80% vaccination levels at some sites, we feel that this is absolutely attainable.” Companies have started to expand their programmes to also vaccinate employees’ dependents and community members, either at company sites or by supporting neighbouring facilities, Baxter said. The industry registered 52 workplace sites with the health department’s workplace vaccination programme, in addition to outreach and temporary facilities. 

Anglican Church wants mandatory jabs for its clergy 

Business Day 25 September 2021 - The Anglican Church of Southern Africa wants to make it compulsory for its priesthood to be vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The church has also called on its ordinary members to also “seriously consider vaccination”. In a statement issued by the office of the archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba on Friday, the church said its provincial synod voted for the resolution during an online meeting. The church said “vaccinations for clergy are necessary because they visit people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 infection. The resolution noted that numbers of people in church congregations are vulnerable as a result of age or comorbidities. “The vote was taken after a presentation to the synod by Koleka Mlisana, co-chair of SA’s ministerial advisory committee on coronavirus, which raised concerns about declining vaccination rates,” the statement reads. 

Novavax seeks emergency listing of Covid-19 vaccine from WHO 

Business Day 23 September 2021 - The WHO’s emergency-use listing is a signal to national regulatory authorities about a product’s safety and efficacy 

Novavax and its partner, the Serum Institute of India, have applied to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for an emergency-use listing of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine, the company said on Thursday. The WHO’s emergency use listing is a signal to national regulatory authorities on a product’s safety and efficacy. It is also a prerequisite for export to several countries participating in the Covax vaccine sharing facility. Novavax has said it would focus on low- and middle-income countries for initial supplies of the vaccine, as the US and other Western nations have already vaccinated a large part of their populations with other vaccines. Novavax had previously said it would apply for the listing in August, marking a slight delay in the filing. 

Slump in jab rates threatens state target 

Business Day 23 September 2021 – Official blame apathy as daily vaccination rate falls to lowest level in over a month 

SA’s average Covid-19 vaccination rate has dropped to its lowest level in over a month, a trend that threatens to throw off course the government’s plan to inoculate three-quarters of the population by year end. It will also fuel debate about measures such as vaccine passports. As of Wednesday afternoon, the seven-day daily uptake in vaccinations dropped to levels last seen in early August, when only those over 35 years were allowed access to the jab. Allowing all those over 18 years access caused a spike in the uptake of vaccinations over the past month, but there has been a significant slump in the past seven days. A far cry from the yet-to-be attained target set by President Cyril Ramaphosa of 300,000 daily doses, an average of 170,000 Covid-19 vaccines have been administered daily. Just over 187,000 were administered on Wednesday, an increase from Monday when about 159,000 jabs were dispensed, the lowest number on a weekday since August 13, when 147,307 jabs were given. 

India to resume vaccine exports to poor countries in Covax programme 

Business Day 20 September 2021 - Announcement comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US India will resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines from the next quarter, prioritising the global vaccine-sharing platform Covax and neighbouring countries first as supplies rise, the health minister said on Monday. 

India, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, stopped exports of vaccines in April to focus on inoculating its own population as infections exploded. The Serum Institute of India (SII) had been due to deliver more than a billion doses in 2021. The country’s monthly vaccine output has since more than doubled and is set to quadruple to more than 300-million doses in October, minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, adding that only excess supplies would be exported.