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Two doses of vaccine recommended

Two doses of vaccine recommended

COVID-19 patients should take two doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine within a period of 21-28 days, the World Health Organization said, as many countries grappled with a more highly infectious coronavirus variant. "We deliberated and came out with the following recommendation: two 2 doses of this vaccine within 21-28 days," Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), told an online news briefing. He said SAGE did not recommend the Pfizer jab for travellers unless they were in a very high-risk group due to the very limited supply of anti-COVID drugs at present.…
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South African coronavirus variant detected in reinfection case in Brazil

South African coronavirus variant detected in reinfection case in Brazil

RICARDO BRITO BRAZILIAN researchers have identified the concerning new coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa in a woman who contracted COVID-19 for the second time, and said it was the first such case reported in the world. There have been other cases of reinfection in Brazil and the South African variant had previously been detected, but reinfection with this mutation of the virus is believed to be a first, researchers said. The case involved a 45-year-old woman from the northeastern state of Bahia, researchers from the D'Or Research and Teaching Institute (IDOR) said, after carrying out a genetic sequencing…
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Gambia’s first two cases of British variant

Gambia’s first two cases of British variant

THE Gambia has recorded its first two cases of the highly infectious coronavirus variant first found in Britain, its health minister has said, in what appears to be the first confirmation of the variant's presence in Africa. Speaking before parliament, Health Minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh did not give any further details about the cases, which could hamper efforts to contain a recent surge in infections. In a weekly report on Tuesday, the World Health Organization listed 50 countries where the variant had been detected around the world - none of them in Africa. Gambia, a former British colony, has so…
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South African scientists’ COVID-19 breakthrough

South African scientists’ COVID-19 breakthrough

RESEARCH by South African scientists suggests that antibodies triggered by exposure to the country's dominant coronavirus variant can prevent infection by other variants, the scientists disclosed yesterday. The findings in laboratory studies offer hope that COVID-19 vaccines based on the 501Y.V2 variant first identified late last year could protect against multiple variants circulating in different parts of the world. The more contagious variant drove a second wave of infections in South Africa that peaked in January and is believed to have spread to many other countries in Africa and other continents. "We used plasma ... from people that were infected…
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The new coronavirus variant in South Africa: Are concerns justified?

The new coronavirus variant in South Africa: Are concerns justified?

SOUTH Africa has identified a new variant of the novel coronavirus, which authorities believe is driving a surge in COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm its healthcare system. Several countries, including Britain which has found the mutant variant in cases linked to South Africa, have banned flights from South Africa, disrupting holiday travel and frustrating tour operators. WHAT IS THE NEW VARIANT? The new variant, referred to as 501.V2, was discovered by a network of scientists around South Africa who have been tracking the genetics of the SARS-COV-2 virus. The variant appears to be focused in the south and southeast regions…
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The new coronavirus variant in Britain: How worrying is it?

The new coronavirus variant in Britain: How worrying is it?

KATE KELLAND A new variant of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Britain and prompting high levels of concern among its European neighbours, some of which have cut transport links. The strain, referred to by some experts as the B.1.1.7 lineage, is not the first new variant of the pandemic virus to emerge, but is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the previously dominant strain in the United Kingdom. ARE THE CONCERNS JUSTIFIED? Most scientists say yes. The new variant has rapidly become the dominant strain in cases of COVID-19 in parts of southern England,…
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South Africa suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine

South Africa suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine

South Africa will suspend use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot in its vaccination programme after data showed it gave minimal protection against mild to moderate infection caused by the country's dominant coronavirus variant. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday the government would await advice from scientists on how best to proceed, after disappointing results in a trial conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand. The government had intended to roll the AstraZeneca shot out to healthcare workers soon, after receiving 1 million doses produced by the Serum Institute of India on Monday. Instead, it will offer vaccines developed by Johnson…
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Africa CDC’s guide AstraZeneca vaccine

Africa CDC’s guide AstraZeneca vaccine

AFRICAN countries that have not reported the circulation of the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa should proceed with the rollout of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the African Union's disease control body said on Thursday. For countries that have reported circulation of the 501Y.V2 variant, they should accelerate their preparedness to introduce all vaccines that have received emergency use authorisation, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong told a news conference. "Consideration should be given to the effectiveness of the vaccine against the 501Y.V2 variant," Nkengasong said.
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COVID-19: What you need to know

COVID-19: What you need to know

HERE's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now: UK variant 'likely to sweep the world' The coronavirus variant first found in the British region of Kent is a concern because it could undermine the protection given by vaccines against developing COVID-19, the head of Britain's genetic surveillance programme said. The variant was dominant in Britain and was likely to sweep the world "in all probability", she said. Sharon Peacock, director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, told the BBC: "What's concerning about this is that the 1.1.7. variant that we have had circulating for some weeks and…
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South Africa backs Pfizer vaccine

South Africa backs Pfizer vaccine

ALEXANDER WINNING TWO of the South African government's top advisers on COVID-19 backed Pfizer's vaccine on Friday, despite a study earlier this week showing that the dominant local coronavirus variant may reduce protective antibodies it triggers. The country is counting on the Pfizer shot, developed with German partner BioNTech, to step up its vaccination programme after administering its first Johnson & Johnson doses on Wednesday. Professor Barry Schoub AstraZeneca vaccinations are on hold after a small local trial found the shot offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant first identified late last year. The laboratory…
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