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Weekly News 14 September 2020

Discovery joins Trinity Challenge to counter future pandemics

Business Day 14 September 2020 - College aims to enable participants to share data and analytics to improve identification, response and recovery

Health and life insurer Discovery has joined a global coalition of top names in business, philanthropy and academia, including tech giants Facebook and Google, in an ambitious initiative that aims to use data and analytics to protect the world from future health emergencies such as Covid-19.

Most of SA's Covid-19 infections are in Gauteng

Times Live 14 September 2020 - Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have the highest percentages of Covid-19 cases, followed by the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

Data released by the health department on Sunday night shows the country has a cumulative total of 649,793 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 1,579 new cases identified. "Regrettably, we report 20 more deaths related to Covid-19. Four of these are in KwaZulu-Natal, six in Gauteng, four in the  Eastern Cape and six in the Western Cape. This brings the total number of deaths related to Covid-19 to 15,447.

Spectre of new Covid-19 surge hangs over holiday season

Times Live 13 September 2020 - Experts are warning South Africans that the holiday season could precipitate a deadly second wave of Covid-19 infections unless they take precautions.

"I am convinced that during the December holidays, people will become more complacent and we could see mass gatherings. My expectation for the next wave would then be February or March," said professor Shabir Madhi, head of the South African Medical Research Council vaccines and infectious diseases unit.

Why halting the Covid-19 vaccine trial is part of the process

BizCommunity 11 September 2020 - This week the University of Oxford and Astra Zeneca temporarily postponed further vaccination in clinical trials of the Covid-19 candidate vaccine, AZD1222, after one of the participants fell ill.

Pausing enrolment into a clinical trial is not unusual or unique to the Covid-19 vaccine. It happens often in the early phases of clinical development of investigational vaccines and other therapeutics, when there’s uncertainty as to the safety profile. For a Covid-19 vaccine to be licensed and recommended for use, it must be proven to be safe.

Trust in a Covid-19 vaccine varies widely, and that could be a deadly problem

Business Day 11 September 2020 - Political instability and religious extremism are fuelling scepticism, and misinformation threatens to disrupt vaccination programmes worldwide

Radically different opinions around the world on the safety, effectiveness and importance of vaccines highlight the challenge facing health officials once a Covid-19 shot arrives. Although support for inoculations in Europe remains low compared with other regions, there are signs that trust is rising in Finland, France, Italy, Ireland and the UK, the report found.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine may still be ready this year, says CEO

Business Day 10 September 2020 - CEO Pascal Soriot seeks to reassure investors after pause in vaccine trial

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the coronavirus vaccine the company is developing with the University of Oxford could still be ready before the end of the year after pausing its trials due to a possible serious neurological problem in one participant.

DA sounds warning on NHI corruption risk

Business Day 09 September 2020 - The bill must be written with the worst-case scenario in mind, so that institutions can withstand interference from ‘the worst possible’ members of the executive, the party says

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has inadequate checks and balances to prevent money being looted on a huge scale, the DA warned on Wednesday. The scale of alleged corruption that has recently come to light in the awarding of coronavirus contracts and the looting of relief funds has highlighted the dangers of inadequate oversight and accountability, DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said.

Doctor is part of group charged with R25m Sassa fraud

Medical Brief 09 September 2020 - A 51-year-old doctor has appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for being part of a group that allegedly defrauded the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa)

Dr Thabani Cebekhulu was granted R10,000 bail. His name was added onto a charge sheet with 13 other accused whose trial date has been set for April 2021.

THE LEX COLUMN: Cancer vaccines: not such a long shot

Business Day 09 September 2020 - The race to find a Covid-19 jab has fast-tracked clinical trials

optimism is now running high thanks to a technology being developed by some front-runners in the Covid-19 vaccine race. The aim would be cure more than prevention — evoking an immune response to fight off tumours already infecting patients. New cancer vaccines would be built using a synthetic form of messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid). These molecules carry genetic information needed to make proteins.

Actuarial Society of SA slashes Covid-19 death estimates

Business Day 07 September 2020 - The earlier version of Assa’s model had produced a limited range of scenarios, and many focused on the higher death estimate of 80,000

The Actuarial Society of SA (Assa) has slashed its estimates of the likely coronavirus death toll in SA in 2020, releasing a revised model that now puts the probable range at between 27,000 and 50,000.

Publication date: 9/14/2020