Vaccine updates for South Africa – latest news for Wednesday 27 January

  • South Africa will start vaccinating citizens ‘next week’.
  • Gauteng is in pole position to administer the shots, and the first recipient is likely to be in this province.
  • There is increasing confidence that the SA variant ‘will not evade’ the effect of the vaccine.
  • It’s not yet known if vaccinated people can still spread COVID-19. Research is ongoing.
  • A new vaccine is likely to be approved in two weeks, as Johnson & Johnson publish their final results.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci believes J&J will be ‘online’ within two weeks.

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Can vaccinated people spread COVID-19 still?

It is still not known whether people vaccinated against Covid-19 can still transmit the coronavirus, the head of the EU’s medicine regulator told MEPs on Tuesday. But preliminary indications are that the vaccines in use so far across the world – by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna – “will continue to be effective”

The South African variant, however, has been branded more complicated. Despite this, the scientific community is still optimistic that all available vaccines can do their job – and some companies are already modifying their products to deal with these mutations.

Updates: Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘set for approval’

Meanwhile, Johnson and Johnson are set to publish the results of their vaccine trials next week. They aim to produce 100 million doses to the US by the end of June, about 200 million doses by the end of the year to the EU with shipments starting in April, and 200 million doses to developing countries that will begin shipping in the second half of the year.

Through the African Union, South Africa will have access to the Johnson and Johnson treatment – which only requires one jab. Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the J&J shot delivers genetic instructions for human cells to create a specific protein of the coronavirus, in order to train the immune system for the live virus.

The Pfizer and Moderna use single-stranded RNA molecules, while the J&J vaccine deploys double-stranded DNA that gets converted to RNA inside human cells. The DNA piggybacks a ride on a modified, non-replicating version of a common-cold causing adenovirus. This virus acts as a vehicle to deliver genetic cargo into the nucleus of human cells.

Once the results are published, the company will apply for emergency authorisation to distribute their vaccine.

[Additional reporting from AFP]

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