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New Years Eve edition: Covid in 2021

covid-19, coronavirus, virus

🔹The vaccine 💉

During Monday night’s family meeting, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in SA in the second quarter of 2021. 

It’s a long way off, and approximately only 10% of the population will get the vaccine at first. 

In another exciting development, on Thursday, the UK approved another vaccine, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, for use. For now, it’s just being rolled out in the UK but is 90% effective, CNN reported. It can be stored at normal fridge temperatures making it far easier to transport and store than the other two vaccines on the market, which have to be stored at extremely cold temperatures. Plus, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has promised to supply low to middle-income countries, like SA, and to do so on a not-for-profit basis, which makes us really hopeful. 

Civil society takes up vaccine fight 

One of the things we love most about SA is our robust civil society. So as concern around unequal access to the vaccine rises around the globe, our civil society is gearing up to pressure government and business to do the right thing. 

A quick catch-up: there has been international concern that richer countries will buy up the world’s vaccine supplies, leaving poorer countries, like SA, struggling to access the scarce commodity when they need it most. As The New York Times reported this week, countries like SA are considered too rich to get vaccines for free, but are actually too poor to pay for them. 

In SA, there are also concerns that when a vaccine eventually arrives, it won’t be distributed equally among rich and poor people. As Daily Maverick reports, the Health Justice Initiative – a coalition of medical professionals and activists – is considering going to court to force the government to release its vaccine distribution plans. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes, and we’ll be watching the fight for transparency around the vaccine process in 2021.

🔹Trials on pregnant women and children to start in 2021 🤰🏾

We know that at least two Covid-19 vaccines have high rates of efficacy in adults – but we don’t yet know how they will affect pregnant women and young children. In January, trials will start to measure the safety of the available vaccines on these two vulnerable groups, reports US-based news outlet CNBC

Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has pointed out the potential dangers for pregnant women and young children. As with all things Covid-related, there’s so much we don’t know. But Fauci said there’s some evidence that children can suffer from an inflammatory disease affecting the organs after being infected. For pregnant women, it’s possible that Covid could cause premature delivery. 

The sooner we can extend the vaccine to everyone, the better. 🙌🏾

🔹Working from home is here to stay 👨🏾‍💻 

Don’t pack that home office away just yet. Flexible hours and working remotely are the biggest workplace trends of 2020 by a mile, thanks to the pandemic, and you can expect this to be the norm for a while to come. 

It hasn’t been a joyride for everyone: working from home has been disruptive for many, and some businesses have found it difficult to cope without the informal office interactions that make up a big part of day-to-day working. As we’ve previously reported, it’s also placed disproportionate stress on women, who have to juggle work, childcare and homeschooling thanks to school closures. 

But according to The Economist, Harvard University researchers have suggested that working from home does make workers more productive, at least in certain sectors. This makes a business case for employers who want to give their employees more flexibility in terms of hours and office location. 

These briefs are from our 30 December 2020 edition of The Wrap. Read the rest of it here.

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