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18 October 2021

Mediclinic surges as it bounces back to pre-pandemic revenue

Business Day 15  October 2021 – Income rises more than 9%, hospital group encouraged by return of nonelective operations

Mediclinic’s share price surged more than 11% on Friday, its best day in 15 months, after SA’s most valuable hospital operator said all three of its divisions are now in elective operations. The group, valued at R46.2bn on the JSE, operates in Switzerland, the Middle East and SA. Like other hospital operators it was hit by the pandemic, which resulted in additional staff and equipment costs, while nonurgent medical procedures were put off. Mediclinic’s update also follows one from peer Life Healthcare earlier in the week that also showed SA revenue growth a little better than expected, Abraham said. 


Children aged 12-17 set to get coronavirus vaccinations, Phaahla

Business Day 15 October 2021 - Health minister says the department is monitoring ‘short-lived cases’ of transient myocarditis

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 years will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations from October 20, health minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday. Speaking at the weekly Covid-19 briefing on Friday, the minister said the electronic registration system would be open from Wednesday next week with vaccinations starting the same day.  Parents would not be required to give consent for their children to be vaccinated as the Children’s Act provided for 12-17 year-olds to give their own consent for any medical treatment, said acting health director-general Nicholas Crisp. This age group accounts for about 6-million people in SA. “It would be good to vaccinate at least half of them between the school holidays and the end of exams,” said Crisp. It is recommended children be given one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

FDA panel unanimously backs Moderna booster jabs for high-risk people

Business Day 14 October 2021- Committee will weigh whether to make a similar recommendation for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on Friday

A panel of expert advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously voted on Thursday to recommend booster shots of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and those at high risk of severe illness. If the FDA signs off on Moderna’s booster, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make specific recommendations on who should get the shots. CDC advisers are scheduled to meet next week. The FDA’s vaccines and related biological products advisory committee met on Thursday to consider the additional dose of the Moderna vaccine and will weigh whether to make a similar recommendation for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on Friday. The vote to back Moderna’s booster was 19-0. 

Massive UK nursing shortage sucks in Kenyan, South African and Zimbabwean nurses

Medical Brief 13 October 2021 - The Royal College of Nursing says NHS England will have to rely on international recruitment to fill 39,000 existing vacancies, writes MedicalBrief.

s part of this process, 20,000 Kenyan nurses will start working in the NHS this month, supplemented by a “steady flow” of nurses from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Other countries being targeted include GhanaIndia and Philippines. Recruitment consultants say that there is already a steady flow of nurses from South Africa and Zimbabwe seeking work in Britain. Earlier this year, more than 150 nurses and doctors resigned from Bulawayo hospitals to take up jobs in the NHS. The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has repeatedly, and to little avail, called on the SA government to improve working conditions here, to discourage nurses who are seizing the opportunity to leave, tempted by higher wages and better working conditions in the NHS. 

Moderna considers SA for site of new vaccine factory

Business Day 13 October 2021 - Health experts say Rwanda, Senegal and SA could be candidates as they either have existing vaccine expertise, or have noted an interest in developing such an industry

Rwanda, Senegal and SA could be potential locations for Moderna’s planned vaccine factory in Africa, the US drugmaker’s co-founder and chair said, as it steps up its search for a site on the continent. Moderna said last week it would build a plant in Africa to produce up to 500-million doses of vaccines a year, including its Covid-19 shot, as pressure grows on pharmaceutical companies to manufacture drugs in lower-income countries. 

Discovery Vitality launches a tool to forecast ‘healthspan’

Business Day 12 October 2021 - Calculator can forecast a person’s lifespan, and how many of these years will be spent in good health

Health and life insurer Discovery has collaborated with research group Rand Europe to develop a new tool that tells users how much of their projected lifespan they can expect to live in good health and offer personalised suggestions of how to extend their good years. The aim is to prompt individuals to change their behaviour and become healthier, giving them greater quality of life and reducing healthcare claims. “It has massive policy implications for retirement. When people are saving for retirement, they need to know how many healthy years they have,” said Discovery CEO and founder Adrian Gore. Discovery pioneered an incentive programme called Vitality, which rewards individuals for healthier behaviour such as exercising more and purchasing more nutritious food.  It has been partnered with insurers around the world and has been emulated by many other companies as there is strong evidence that the behaviour change prompted by the programme drives down healthcare costs. 


MSD to seek regulatory approval for its Covid-19 pill in SA

Business Day 12 October 2021 - If approved, molnupiravir would be the first treatment at-risk patients could take at hom

Pharmaceutical manufacturer MSD will seek authorisation for its coronavirus treatment molnupiravir from SA’s medicines regulator, the company confirmed on Tuesday. If approved, molnupiravir would be a potential game changer, as it would be the first treatment at-risk patients could take at home. All the currently approved therapies used in SA, including dexamethasone and remdesivir, require intravenous administration, and are limited to a hospital setting. Merck, as it is known in the US, and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, have applied for emergency use authorisation for the pill from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after interim analysis of a phase 3 trial of the drug found it halved the risk of hospitalisation and death in people at risk of developing severe Covid-19. The international trial included participants from SA. 

AstraZeneca says antibody shot cuts risk of severe Covid by 50%

Business Day 11 October 2021 - Antibody cocktail reduced the risk of severe Covid-19 or death in patients, a study shows

AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail against Covid-19, which has proven to work as a preventive shot in the non-infected, was also shown to save lives and prevent severe disease when given as treatment within a week of first symptoms. The drug, a combination of two antibodies called AZD7442, reduced the risk of severe Covid-19 or death by 50% in non-hospitalised patients who have had symptoms for seven days or less, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said on Monday. The risk reduction was even better in patients who started therapy within just five days of initial symptoms, but AstraZeneca joins an already crowded field of medicines that were shown to prevent deterioration in patients with mild disease when given soon after diagnosis.