COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES| What we know about the South African variant of Covid-19

February 09 2021 – 07:30

‘People’s lives are on the line’: Seven reactions to SA’s vaccine ‘moemish’

The EFF is among parties that have reacted to the news that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not particularly effective against mild to moderate disease caused by the dominant Covid-19 variant.

On Sunday, the department of health confirmed that the AstraZeneca vaccine provided minimal protection against the symptoms from the new Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2 or B. 1.351.

The batch of 1 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII) arrived in SA last week and it is set to expire in April.

February 09 2021 – 07:30

South Africa halted the planned rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University after data showed it gave minimal protection against mild infection from one variant of the virus found in the country.

* The variant was identified in December and is now the dominant variant in South Africa, responsible for 80%-90% of COVID-19 new cases. 

* Scientists say it is different from other variants circulating in South Africa because it has multiple mutations in the important “spike” protein that the virus uses to infect human cells.

* The 501Y.V2 variant, part of the B.1.351 lineage, is about 53% more transmissible than earlier variants of the virus, research shows.

* South African scientists say there is no clear evidence that it is associated with more severe disease or worse outcomes. However, it does appear to spread faster than previous iterations.

* As of Jan. 27, it had been identified in 41 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Australia, China France, Japan and Switzerland are among the countries that have found cases. 

* Drugmakers including Pfizer/BioNTech , Moderna, AstraZeneca are testing whether their vaccines protect against the variant.


February 09 2021 – 07:00

First it was whether to take the jab, now health-care workers must decide which one

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That was the question put to health-care workers on Friday. And the responses were mixed.

But things changed two days later, when health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Monday night that the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine to health-care workers — who were first in line for the Covid jab — would be temporarily halted after disappointing results on the vaccine’s efficacy for mild and moderate infection from the Covid variant dominating in SA. However, it is likely that the vaccine is effective against severe infection.

February 09 2021 – 06:00

WATCH | Surviving the second wave: Anxiety & fatigue on the Covid front line

South African front-line health-care staff have been tirelessly battling the Covid-19 pandemic since the country’s first cases were recorded in March 2020.  

At Tembisa Hospital, near the nation’s capital, head of internal medicine Dr Portia Ngwata says she hasn’t taken a day off since the start of the pandemic. 

“I personally haven’t taken leave since 2020 until today. My staff, the leave that they actually have is when they’re sick. We’ve got continuous fatigue. We just wish this virus would give us a break,” Ngwata says. 

Updated: February 9, 2021 — 10:08 am

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