IMPORTANT THINGS HAPPENING IN SOUTH AFRICA TODAY
Global Covid-19 infections have hit 87.2 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1.88 million. In South Africa, infections now over 1 million and more than 30,000 people having died from the disease.
SA starts Covid vaccine review process:
Johnson & Johnson was the first to apply for Covid-19 vaccine registration in South Africa and its jab is one of at least four being trialled in the country, along with those developed by Novavax, AstraZeneca and Pfizer. The regulator, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said it will “review the safety and efficacy of each vaccine on a case-by-case basis and will only grant approval for public use once it has met acceptable standards of quality, safety and efficacy”. The readiness programme includes the Covid-19 Vaccine Registration Working Group, comprising external and SAHPRA experts in vaccinology, manufacturing, clinical trials, epidemiology, vigilance and other specialisations informing quality, safety and efficacy.
Government looking at tougher lockdown for South Africa – including a move to level 4 restrictions:
South African government officials have called for stricter measures to curb soaring coronavirus infections at a meeting to discuss the state’s response to the pandemic, according to two people familiar with the matter.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is hosting a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council on Wednesday to assess the spread of the disease.
Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Police Minister Bheki Cele have recommended the country move to virus alert level 4 for 30 days.
Travel restrictions for South Africa as countries ban entry over Covid-19 variant:
A number of countries have announced travel bans to and from South Africa, citing fears of the new Covid-19 variant discovered in the country.
A variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus (Covid-19) – currently termed the ‘501.V2 Variant’ – was identified by genomics scientists in South Africa and formally announced by government in late December.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said a genomics team, led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, or KRISP, has sequenced hundreds of samples from across the country since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
They noticed that a particular variant has increasingly dominated the findings of the samples collected in the past two months.
The evidence that has been collated, therefore, strongly suggests that that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant.