The University of Pretoria’s Health Sciences Faculty is set to assist with the national rollout of vaccines in South Africa. PDBY received confirmation from Professor Veronica Ueckermann, Adjunct Professor: Department of Internal Medicine and Head of COVID-19 Response Team at the University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic Hospital, that the hospital is “[…] is currently rolling out the JNJ vaccine to healthcare workers”.
Furthermore, Prof. Ueckermann stated that the hospital aims to vaccinate a total of 500 healthcare workers in a day. All UP medical students undertaking their clinical years of study (years 4-6) are included in the first phase of the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) vaccinations happening at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. The JNJ vaccine is a single-shot vaccine that is being rolled out in South Africa following the halt in the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after scientific studies ascertained that the JNJ vaccine has a 64% efficacy rate against the 501Y.V2 variant, the dominant variant circulating in South Africa that accounted for the second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country.
Additionally, UP researchers are currently involved in a study involving neutralising antibodies that are less effective against the new variant. The publication has been accepted by Nature Medicine for publication. Prof. Ueckermann states that “[they] are continuing to look at neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses in patients who had both the previous and the new variant in South Africa”.
The UP Faculty of Health Sciences has also hosted a vaccination information session where numerous UP researchers provided clarity on vaccine modes of action and common myths surrounding them. The session can be found using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/