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:

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Susanna is currently stu(dying) genetics and joined the PDBY team in 2019. She divides her time between writing and playing with plant disease samples. Her contributions span across Science, politics and all things spicy. If you are or were in the SRC, she’s probably spammed you with messages for a story. She’s got a memory like an elephant – so she probably keeps track of student promises. Picture not to scale.