SA has 25,065 active cases of Covid-19

South Africa has 25,065 active cases of Covid-19, from a total of 3.973,086 reported cases, 3.846,597 recoveries and 101,424 fatalities.

23,814 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, with 2,093 new cases of Covid-19 being identified, which represents an 8.8% positivity rate. The country also reported 27 deaths, of which 8 occurred in the past 24–48 hrs.

Moderna announces positive results for Omicron vaccine

US biotech company Moderna on Wednesday announced positive results for a new vaccine that targets both the original Covid-19 strain and Omicron, and sees the shot as its “lead candidate” for a booster this fall.

The so-called “bivalent” vaccine was tested in a trial of 814 adults and shown to produce 1.75 times more Omicron-specific neutralising antibodies, which have the power to prevent infection, compared to Moderna’s original Spikevax vaccine.

All of the participants previously received three doses of Spikevax, and then slightly more than half went on to get a fourth dose of the bivalent shot while the rest got another dose of Spikevax. Antibody levels were tested one month later.

The group that got the new shot also received slightly superior protection to the ancestral strain of Covid-19 compared to Spikevax — though original Covid has long since disappeared from circulation.

“We are thrilled,”  said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna in a statement, adding he anticipated this vaccine would be the company’s lead candidate for authorization as a booster this fall.

“We want to be as ready as early as August for shipping,” he added to investors in a call.

The results were broadly welcomed by experts, who agreed Moderna’s vaccine is now the front runner as a booster, though some gave a note of caution. 

“We won’t know about clinical outcomes until later this year,” tweeted Eric Topol, a physician and scientist at Scripps Research Translational Institute. The study concerns only antibody levels, which are thought to serve as a useful proxy for how a vaccine will perform, but can’t make precise predictions.

Breakthrough infections have risen since Omicron became dominant in late 2021, with vaccine makers hoping to restore efficacy to previous levels, even as first generation vaccines continue to protect well against severe disease and death.

Additional reporting by AFP