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Weekly News 02 November 2020

Lockdown day 220: Latest Covid-19 numbers

Financial Mail 02 November 2020 - Number of Covid-19 infections in SA rises by 1,371 to 726,823, there have been 655,330 recoveries and 19,411 deaths to date

Covid-19: global survey shows worrying signs of vaccine hesitancy

Financial Mail 02 November 2020 - A safe, effective Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be developed in record time and may be approved for production, distribution and acceptance some time in 2021.

Public health experts say that at least 70% of any community must get a Covid-19 vaccine to achieve an acceptable level of immunity to protect its members. South Africans came closer than any other country to the 70% standard, at almost 65%. But only 46.3% of Nigerians said they would do so.  

POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Cyril Ramaphosa expected to address the nation following stern Covid-19 warning

Business Day 01 November 2020 - President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation this week amid suggestions that the government could reinstate stricter measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Ramaphosa indicated last week in parliament he would address the nation in the coming days, amid fears of a new wave of Covid-19 infections. However, he downplayed the prospect of a stricter lockdown.  

White House slams Anthony Fauci for criticising Trump’s Covid-19 approach

Business Day 01 November 2020 - The White House slammed Anthony Fauci after the nation’s leading infectious disease expert ramped up criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted in a Washington Post interview published on Saturday night that the US is “in for a whole lot of hurt” from the Covid-19 pandemic, and forecast a rising death toll over the winter. 

Britain starts accelerated review for AstraZeneca’s potential Covid-19 vaccine

Business Day 01 November 2020 - AstraZeneca and Pfizer are among leaders in the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus

UK pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca says Britain’s health regulator had started an accelerated review of its potential coronavirus vaccine. In rolling reviews, regulators can see clinical data in real time and communicate with drug makers on manufacturing processes and trials to accelerate the approval process. 

Document reveals how deep spending cuts will hit health sector

Business Day 29 October 2020 - The consolidated health budget grows by just 2.9% over the medium-term expenditure framework, which is a cut in real terms

A document tabled in parliament by finance minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday reveals deep cuts to public health spending that were not elaborated upon in the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS). 

Weekly deaths tick above forecast range for second week as Covid-19 simmers

Business Day 29 October 2020 - It is the late starters — Free State, Mpumalanga and North West — that are still burning, says report co-author Debbie Bradshaw

The Medical Research Council’s (MRC’s) latest mortality report shows the number of natural deaths has exceeded the forecast range for the second week in a row, as SA’s coronavirus epidemic continues to simmer. 

Moderna likely to report late-stage Covid-19 vaccine data in November

Business Day 29 October 2020 - Moderna says it is preparing to distribute the vaccine, and expects to be able to produce 20-million doses by the end of 2020

Moderna said on Thursday it was on track to report early data from a late-stage trial of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in November, offering the clearest timeline yet for when the world will know whether it is effective. 

How Covid-19 can cross borders via global agri-food market places

Business Day 29 October 2020 - The virus tends to thrive in cold and dry environments, which has made cold-storage facilities ideal spaces for the pathogen to spread, according to a new study

It is possible that contaminated food imports can transfer the virus to workers as well as the environment, said Dale Fisher, an infectious diseases physician at Singapore’s National University Hospital. Frozen-food markets are thought to be one harbour in the first part of a chain of transmission, he said. 

Human Rights Watch supports SA’s call to scrap Covid-19 patents

Business Day 29 October 2020 - HRW says governments have an obligation to ensure the benefits of research funded with public money are shared as widely as possible.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on governments around the world to support SA and India’s proposal to waive aspects of global intellectual property laws to ensure affordable and accessible Covid-19 vaccines, once safe and effective products have been developed. 

Fauci wants a global rollout of America’s ‘right on schedule’ vaccines

Medical brief 28 October 2020 - Top global infectious diseases scientist and US presidential adviser Dr Anthony Fauci told doctors in South Africa during a PPS-sponsored webinar that it should be known “within weeks” if there is a safe and effective vaccine, writes Karen MacGregor for MedicalBrief.

The US, as with its earlier treatment response to HIV/Aids, had a “moral obligation” to ensure that “we don’t have just rich countries getting vaccines”. With the United States in advanced stages of trialling two COVID-19 candidate vaccines, Fauci told his SA audience: “I think we’re right on schedule.”  

COVID-19’s second wave: More cases but fewer deaths

Business Day 28 October 2020 - A second wave of COVID-19 is swamping Europe with daily numbers of confirmed cases, mainly because of increased testing, exceeding their spring peaks, while death rates are substantially lower.

Yet governments, worried about a backlash, chose not to reintroduce harsh social-distancing measures. The report says their decision has had a price. A second wave of COVID-19 is now washing over Europe.