South Africa’s well being care employees looking forward to first vaccines –

ELANDSDOORN, South Africa (AP) – After testing thousands of people for coronavirus, South African nurse Asnath Masango can’t wait to get vaccinated.

“So many people, I test them and within a few days they died,” said Masango. “I want protection.”

CJ Umunnakwe, a virologist who runs a lab that has done more than 40,000 virus tests, says he “believes in vaccination wholeheartedly. Vaccines save lives. “He plans to speak to those who may be skeptical.

Health care workers at Ndlovu Care Group in rural northeast South Africa are eagerly awaiting the first vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson, which will be distributed to medical staff starting this week.

This is despite the fact that the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine – unlike the two-shot vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca – has not been approved for general use worldwide.

Anyway, say many South African health workers excited about the J&J sting that is coming amid a major shift in the government’s vaccination strategy.

In South Africa, with nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including more than 47,000 deaths, 41% of the cases reported in Africa were reported.

Last week, South Africa made a controversial decision to remove the AstraZeneca vaccine, already bought, shipped and approved in the country, from the first phase, which will vaccinate 1.25 million healthcare workers.

The last-minute decision was made after a small test showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine offered minimal protection against mild to moderate cases of the variant dominant in South Africa. Although preliminary and not peer-reviewed, the results raised serious questions about how effective the AstraZeneca vaccine would be specifically in South Africa, despite the fact that the vaccine was approved in over 50 other countries around the world.

Health officials decided to switch to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which tests have shown to be safe and effective against the variant. A one-shot vaccine is also easier to implement for many countries.

“The move has encouraged skeptics who say the vaccines are having problems,” Umunnakwe said of those who claimed that big drug companies are using Africans as guinea pigs.

“I tell people that the change shows that decisions are being made transparently, that they are science-driven,” he said. “It’s proof that we give the public top priority.”

South Africa bought 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 80,000 will be delivered this week to kick off the vaccination campaign, the president says. The South African regulator has approved the J&J shot for testing purposes. Until this vaccine receives full approval, it will be administered as part of a “conducted study”, according to the authorities.

At the Ndlovu Care Group in the small town of Elandsdoorn in Limpopo Province, 200 kilometers north of Johannesburg, doctors have seen the devastation caused by the virus up close. When COVID-19 hit, the center quickly expanded its laboratory to run PCR testing.

The protective gear that Masango covers cannot hide her empathy as it greets people who come for a COVID-19 test.

“I’m so skilled at it, you won’t even feel it!” she said to a visitor.

Masango, 56, said she tested more people than she can count.

“What makes me feel most depressed is when I have to tell someone that they are positive,” she said. “You are so afraid… grandparents will die. Breadwinners die. How do their children get food? ”

The prospect of a vaccination excites them.

“Yo!” she says with wide eyes. “I want this vaccine!”

Ndlovu Care Group has conducted more than 40,000 tests in the rural community, including workers in large mines and commercial farms. More than 20,000 of these tests were carried out in January alone, when South Africa was struck by a dramatic recurrence of the disease, fueled by the contagious variant that dominates today.

The Ndlovu lab can run the PCR virus tests and get the results within hours. At the January resuscitation, an average of 1,600 tests were performed per day.

“We have been busy, very busy,” said Umunnakwe, a 35-year-old virologist who came to the center to screen for HIV and is now also examining coronavirus. He is closely watching the genome sequencing in South Africa that has identified the new variant.

“By sequencing, we not only see what’s in the virus today, but we can also see what could happen in the future,” said Umunnakwe, hoping that Ndlovu will receive the equipment for sequencing, which is rare for a rural area Health Center.

Most South Africans look forward to a vaccination. According to a survey by the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council, an impressive 67% of adults said they would definitely or likely take a vaccine.

Dr. Rebone Maboa, who is conducting a study on the J&J vaccine at the Ndlovu Center, was thrilled to hear that it is being used in South Africa.

“I am very stunned!” said Maboa. “I think it’s actually a better vaccine for us here in South Africa when we look at our variant.”

The 42-year-old doctor said 602 people in the community took the test and half were injected with the J&J vaccine in November. She also said that her recent recovery from COVID-19 makes her a stronger advocate of vaccination.

“A lack of knowledge makes people much, much more anxious,” said Maboa. “Those who receive the vaccine will be role models, vaccination ambassadors who encourage others.”


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