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Opinion pieces by Bhekisisa Contributors

Bad science goes up in smoke: Why smokers were never protected from COVID

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Early pandemic research pointed to smokers not being at risk of severe COVID-19. This turned out to be false. Here’s why the slow pace of science means it’s easy for people to latch onto extraordinary claims despite a lack of strong evidence.

Can HIV lessons tell us why SA men are so slow to get a...

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Only 40% of South Africans vaccinated against COVID are men. Their perceptions of masculinity, health spaces and their risk to contract the coronavirus, may explain why.

How one policy change could curb two airborne epidemics in South Africa

South Africa must make dramatic shifts in its COVID-19 prevention strategies to include new evidence that SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly through the air.

Old habits die hard: J&J’s failure to deliver COVID jabs to SA is nothing...

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South Africa is still awaiting millions of COVID vaccines from Johnson & Johnson even though the country contributed to its COVID research through the Ensemble and Sisonke studies.

Poverty, violence and stress: Why South Africa’s young people are anxious

A study in eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal found that poverty and violence drive generalised anxiety disorder among youth living in urban informal settlements.

Vaccine denialism kills: Mail & Guardian has let down its readers

Those who dispute that the COVID vaccines used in South Africa are safe and effective are just wrong.

Four lessons from 40 years of HIV: Why COVID doesn’t end with equitable vaccine...

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Inequity in COVID vaccine access echoes mistakes from the HIV response. In the forty years since Aids was first identified, there have also been several lessons on how to contain a pandemic. Starting with equity and supporting health systems.

A pandemic without an end: How systemic racism is hampering vaccine uptake

COVID vaccine roll-outs are missing communities of colour. This has been linked to distrust in health services among minority groups due to historical abuse. But that further victimises these communities. Here’s why racism continues to pervade the health system and breed mistrust.

How well is Pfizer’s COVID jab working in SA? We break down some of...

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A local analysis found promising protective effects of the Pfizer COVID vaccine — even among those who had only received one dose. The data from Discovery Health illustrates how vaccination can lower your risk of infection. But even with this promise, the variants circulating in South Africa means we shouldn’t abandon existing safety measures.

‘We only write about them when they are dead’: Hate killings of black lesbians...

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Nearly three decades after South Africa’s first Gay and Lesbian pride march, journalist and researcher Nechama Brodie takes a look at the violent history the country’s black lesbians have endured.

A false sense of safety? Why ending the COVID pandemic doesn’t stop with vaccines

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The world was able to develop COVID-19 vaccines in just over a year. But much more needs to be done before we can end the pandemic.

The Sisonke trial rewrote history. Eight lessons for the nationwide vaccine roll-out

Usually, the gap between designing a study and scaling it up to reach people on the ground takes years. Sisonke did it in a matter of 17 days – and rewrote history.

Finding an HIV vaccine: Five lessons from the search for a COVID jab

The COVID pandemic has revealed that vaccine development and testing timelines can be shrunk from decades to months. But not without its shortcomings. Here’s a look at what lessons we can learn from the search for a COVID jab.

Winning the COVID vaccine race: Why the TRIPS waiver is just the beginning

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Waiving COVID vaccine intellectual property rights is a start, but ending the pandemic also requires that drug companies share the know-how of how to produce their jabs and that more countries develop the capacity to produce shots.

Rape, time & place: How to understand SA’s geography of violence

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Simply identifying hotspots doesn’t explain why some places report more gender-based violence than others. This limits our understanding of the problem, and our ability to find a solution.
We can get polio out of Africa this year and out of every country in the world in the next several years, say Bill and Melinda Gates.

Four factors blocking medicines made in Africa

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Setting up a continent-wide medicines regulator in Africa could be key to getting the continent’s people the treatments and COVID vaccines they need. Here’s why more countries need to put their weight behind it.