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Tech talk: Unpacking and assembling the puzzle pieces of a COVID vaccine

One of the scientific breakthroughs that came with the COVID-19 pandemic was the introduction of new vaccine technology, like those used in the Pfizer jabs. A new vaccine plant in Cape Town will now make similar vaccines on local soil, but making these specialised shots often require some hands-on help.

The secret is in your cells: How the body can protect you from getting...

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Omicron is the most mutated form of SARS-CoV-2 that the world has seen. These changes allow it to spread faster and outsmart your body’s natural defences. But the immune system has some tricks up its sleeve that help protect you from getting severely ill.

‘Tis the season for a new variant: Your introduction to how quickly Omicron is...

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The Omicron variant was identified in South Africa at the end of November and has quickly begun to dominate new infections in the country. Here’s what the data tells us so far about how quickly Omicron spreads — but truly understanding the variant will take more time.

Bhekisisa wrapped: Our greatest hits from 2021

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As the second year of coronavirus pandemic reporting draws to a close, the Bhekisisa team takes a look back at their favourite stories of the past twelve months.

The joke’s on us, South Africa. The cruel logic of Omicron travel bans –...

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Wealthy nations were quick to ban southern African nations from entering their borders when the Omicron variant was identified – but not against each other. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination is nothing new.

Your A to Z guide on HIV: The top 10 things to know from...

The HIV pandemic isn’t going anywhere until a cure is found. In the meantime, these expert HIV clinicians say South Africa should protect its victories.

Table talk: This deal could get vaccines to poorer countries fast. Guess who’s blocking...

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Powerful governments, including the European Union and the UK, are resisting a proposed deal that could enable companies in less developed countries to legally manufacture COVID products developed by large pharmaceutical companies.

Three reasons not to take animal medicine

The use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 remains unproven with little to no evidence that it works. Although the medication can now be legally accessed with a doctor’s supervision, some people continue to use the animal version of the drug. Here’s why that’s dangerous.

The science of sequencing: How Africa is preparing for future pandemics

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Africa is building up a genomic surveillance network of 12 regional hubs that will help the continent to prepare for future pandemics.

The ABCs of DIY vaccines: Why tech transfer is a big thing

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Africa’s reliance on companies outside the continent can be turned around in time for the next health crisis. A new World Health Organisation initiative will make this happen by helping nations make jabs without slogging through the trial and error of developing a new vaccine.

The Pfizer palpitations: What exactly are the risks to teens’ hearts from this COVID...

As South Africa’s teenagers line up to get their Pfizer COVID jab, many parents are concerned about the possible risk of heart inflammation. We break down the numbers behind this extremely rare side effect and why it shouldn’t deter teens from getting a shot.

Mostly men: Why they die young

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Women’s mortality rates have been on the decline since 1950. But progress for men has been much slower. Here’s why lack of action among policymakers has led to trailing improvements in deaths among young men aged 10 to 24 years old.

Put a label on it — or not. How to get South Africans to...

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Europe tried putting clearer labels on food to get people eating healthier. But the same approach won’t work in South Africa. Here’s how to get people away from processed food and find healthier, affordable alternatives.

Farmers vs. pharmacists: How South Africa’s ivermectin use slips through the cracks

There’s less demand for human ivermectin in South Africa when the country is in between COVID waves. But nobody is tracking how many people may be using the animal formulation.

How Africa plans to make 60% of the vaccines needed on the continent

Africa is building up its own vaccine manufacturing capacity which will make the continent less dependent on wealthy nations for vaccine supply.

Disorganised documents: How bad record keeping will set back the NHI

The majority of South Africa’s public hospitals have a problem with tracking the costs of patient care, this study found. This poses a problem for the country’s plans for a National Health Insurance as hospitals could operate at a loss and face reimbursement challenges.