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On the pandemic front, this week’s newly reported COVID-19 infections in South Africa have increased rapidly once more to a very disturbing 9 142 infections per day this week (↑53% from last week’s average of 5 960). Consequently, the total number of cases recorded in the country now stands at ~1,78 million6, with a death toll of 58 323 (up by 913). Besides the unprecedented surge in new cases caused by the third wave, an even more distressing figure is the total number of active cases. Active cases are now numbering more than 100 000, and the number of new cases exceeding the number of recoveries by a large margin as the third wave takes hold.

In absolute terms, South Africa has remained at the same spot, 19th place globally. Worldwide, more than 178 million cases have now been recorded, with a total of 3,8 million people losing their lives to the virus. In addition, a total of 2,5 billion vaccine doses have now been administered worldwide7, whereas South Africa continues to lag at some ~1,87 million vaccine doses. Although the daily vaccination rate has increased significantly, it is still nowhere near the ambitious targets set, so the backlog continues to grow. In essence, as emphasized in preceding reports, the country urgently needs to increase the rollout programme. This week the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) refused to release 2 million units of J&J vaccine ingredients that arrived in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, for processing. These ingredients were contaminated in a US Baltimore facility and needed further testing by SAHPRA. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration released an additional 300 000 doses of vaccines that arrived in South Africa this week. These additional vaccines will be specifically targeted at teachers throughout the country.

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