Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa now has 87,715 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

This is up by 3,825 cases from the 83,890 infections on Thursday, when 3,478‬ new infections were reported, while the highest daily record of 4,302 new cases was reported on Sunday.

The minister announced 94 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total up to 1,831, and a mortality rate of 2.1%, while recoveries increased to 47,825, which translates to a recovery rate of 54.5%.

A total of 1.26 million tests have been conducted to date, with  32,336 over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 8.6 million on Friday, while deaths have exceeded 457,000 and 4.56 million recoveries have been reported.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine partnership with Clover Biopharmaceuticals started tests in humans, following a number of other programs in the sprint to come up with a weapon to try to halt the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

Initial results from the study are expected in August, and a bigger efficacy trial is expected to start later in 2020, Glaxo said in a statement Friday.

The University of Oxford, working with AstraZeneca Plc, as well as Moderna Inc and CanSino Biologics Inc. are among the institutions and companies with programs already in clinical trials as governments look for a way to slow the pandemic.

An experimental Covid-19 vaccine from Imperial College London was starting tests in humans this week, relying on cutting-edge technology that scientists hope will allow hundreds of millions of doses to be produced quickly.

The Glaxo collaboration with Clover, a Chinese biotech, relies on the UK company’s adjuvant system, a booster designed to enhance the body’s immune response.

Glaxo has said it can reduce the amount of vaccine required per dose, allowing more people to be immunized, and create longer-lasting immunity.

SA moving forward

Minister Mkhize, said South Africa is moving forward with confidence, backed by science, with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said government has taken the necessary bold steps needed to prevent the rapid spread of Coronavirus.

“We are moving forward with confidence, backed by science, which told us it would not be worth extending the lockdown, as it would not have an effect on the inevitable laws of epidemiology.

“In terms of our model, even if we extended the lockdown by another two months, we would not necessary delay the peak by any meaningful margin.”

“We must ensure that as the virus spreads, we are able to contain the curve. But as we open the economy, sustaining this requires a commitment to the goals of achieving UHC [Universal Health Coverage] and shifting emphasis from regulation and law enforcement to social compacting for mass buy in and compliance,” Mkhize said on Friday.

He was addressing a webinar of the University of the Western Cape, titled ‘Social solidarity and equitable health care for all in a time of Covid and beyond’.

Mkhize said South Africa’s hospitalisation and mortality rates are some of the lowest in the world, and the recovery rate is higher than the global average.

“Although the threat of the system being overcome by the virus lingers, it has not yet manifested. We have had to implement drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus and we have had to regulate and at times enforce the regulations.

“We made the necessary sacrifices amidst already murky economic conditions. We are faced with little choice but to open the economy, despite the rising numbers,” Mkhize said.

He said it will not help to save people from Covid-19, only for them to succumb to hunger. He said Covid-19 compelled government to invest R20 billion in health and R500 billion in socio-economic relief.

“This is the most stark evidence that disinvestment in health is disinvestment in the entire economy,” the minister said.

According to the Minister, government aims to test 30 000 people a day and is attaining that goal.

“We get very close to that figure, despite global shortages of test kits and reagents,” the minister said.

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