WATCH Covid-19 weekly round-up: situation in India is a concern for SA, Mkhize says

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published May 3, 2021

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The Covid-19 situation in India and the increasing infections is a concern for South Africa, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.

He was speaking during a UN Children’s Fund online briefing on vaccine doses and distribution across the world.

Mkhize said there was a risk that the dominant virus variant in India could be spread to South Africa.

“We are concerned about the situation in India. South Africa and India have a very close historical, economic and cultural links and therefore people tend to be moving between these countries and could increase the risk of the spread of the dominant variant.”

After several weeks of soaring infections, India reported more than 400 000 new cases on Saturday, a global record.

The country has recorded more than 19.6 million cases and 216 000 deaths.

First batch of Pfizer vaccines lands at OR Tambo

The first shipment of more than 325 000 Pfizer vaccines landed in South Africa on Sunday evening.

The vaccines will be sent to the National Control Laboratory for quality assurance and, after its release, will be distributed to the various provinces.

Mkhize said South Africa would be receiving around 300 000 Pfizer vaccine doses weekly until the end of May and that would be doubled from June.

By the end of June, the country expected to have secured at least 4.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses.

Meanwhile, the Sisonke vaccination programme continues to roll out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at 95 vaccination sites across the country.

Health-care workers have been urged to register for the vaccine. The study resumed last week Wednesday after it was temporarily paused.

Next-generation vaccines could take the form of pills and nasal sprays

Leading vaccine manufacturers are working to develop the next generation of Covid-19 vaccines in the form of pills and nasal sprays.

Pfizer has revealed that clinical trials for an oral antiviral pill are under way.

Chief executive Albert Bourla spoke to CNBC on Tuesday and said the oral vaccines provided several advantages and could be a “game-changer”.

The potential treatment option could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalised or in critical care.

According to a company tracking the development of Covid-19 vaccines, FasterCures, five companies are developing an oral vaccine and 13 companies a nasal spray vaccine.

Researchers from Altimmune are exploring the option of treating Covid-19 with a nasal spray, called NasoShield.

Scientists from biotechnology company Vaxart said that having antiviral pills and the nasal spray could be effective and would allow people, who didn’t want injections, to be immunised.

Keep an eye out next week for another roundup of the top Covid-19 stories.

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