Covid-19 weekly round-up: Healthcare workers receive booster shots under Sisonke 2 study
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Healthcare workers are now able to receive Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 booster shots.
Those who received their initial dose during the Sisonke study that ran between February and May 2021, have now been invited to participate in the Sisonke 2 study.
The Department of Health and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said that close to 500 000 participants are eligible to receive their booster shots.
At this stage, only J&J jabs will be available to healthcare workers, however, the Pfizer booster may become available in the upcoming months.
The additional dose recommendation is based on data showing the safety and efficacy of a two-dose regimen.
Acting Director General of Health Dr Nicholas Crisp said frontline workers who receive a booster will enhance their level of protection ahead of the fourth wave.
Communications have been sent out to all Sisonke participants containing a link to an online consent form to receive their booster dose.
Sisonke 2 Booster vaccinations will be available until mid-December 2021.
Government calls for Vooma Vaccination Weekend participation
Ahead of the festive season and the anticipated fourth wave, government has called upon leaders and civil society to partake in the upcoming Vooma Vaccination Weekend.
It comes at a time when the rate of new Covid-19 infections is low in the country, but where the fourth wave is anticipated at the end of this year or early in the new year.
The Department of Health said a higher vaccination rate over the next month could substantially reduce the fourth wave impact, especially if coverage among people aged 50 and older could be accelerated.
To date, over 80% of confirmed Covid-19 deaths have been in this age group.
The first Vooma Vaccination Weekend achieved 75% of its target of 500 000 vaccinations over the three-day period.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said they hope to achieve 100% of that target this coming weekend.
Three out of five people aged 50 and older have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, said Phaahla, and the more people in this age group who are vaccinated, the more likely South Africa will be able to avert the effects of the fourth wave.
South Africa’s Covid-19 test positivity rate has reached its lowest level in between waves since the start of the pandemic.
With only 116 new Covid-19 cases recorded on Monday, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) the increase represents a 0.7% positivity rate.
Senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Dr Ridhwaan Suliman said that cases have decreased by 27%, hospitalisations are down by 30%, and deaths down by 39%.
Since the vaccine rollout started in the country in February, over 23.2 million doses have been administered to 15.5 million people. Just under 40% of adults had been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, more than 250 million Covid-19 infections have been recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic.
Keep an eye out next week for another round-up of the top Covid-19 stories.