Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize said in a statement that the cumulative number of detected COVID-19 cases in South Africa rises to 732 414.
This is an increase of 1 866 new cases identified in the past 24 hours.
The cumulative number of tests conducted to date is 4 917 625 with 23 942 new tests conducted since the last report.
Mkhize also said a further 92 COVID-19 related deaths were recorded today: 27 from Eastern Cape, 7 from Gauteng, 17 from the Free State, 4 from KwaZulu Natal, 1 from Mpumalanga, 23 from North West, 8 from Northern Cape and 5 from Western Cape.
This brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 19 677. Of the 92 deaths reported today, 23 were reported to have occurred in the past 24-48 hours: 4 in the Free State, 9 in Eastern Cape, 5 in Gauteng, 1 in Northern Cape and 4 in Western Cape.
Mkhize added that the recoveries now stand at 671 579 which translates to a recovery rate of 91,7%.
Meanwhile AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus shot could be ready for large-scale vaccinations as early as this year, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said, dismissing reports of delays and production snags.
The U.K. drugmaker is poised to unveil vaccine test results by year-end even after trials were slightly delayed over the summer as infection rates slowed in the northern hemisphere. A recent resurgence has allowed scientists to gather the clinical data they need, according to Soriot. Astra and the University of Oxford are keeping the vaccine in a frozen bulk state to preserve its shelf life while they await final test results.
"At the end of the day, we don’t yet know if the vaccine works,"Soriot said in a Bloomberg Television interview, adding that many questions remain, such as whether it will show results for everyone and for how long. "We would hope that large-scale vaccinations would be possible starting in January next year — possibly even December.
Soriot’s remarks come a day after Kate Bingham, chair of the U.K. Vaccine Taskforce, said only 4 million doses of the shot would be available by the end of the year, far fewer than the 30 million that were due to be ready by September. AstraZeneca said it’s confident it can begin supplying hundreds of millions of doses on a "rolling basis" once a shot is cleared.
The U.K. drugmaker has been at the forefront of efforts to fight the pandemic, and its experimental shot could be one of the first to be approved globally if successful. Astra and drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. are all seeking to deliver crucial test results on a vaccine in the coming weeks, with emergency clearance possible before the end of the year.
Soriot said the world needs several vaccines and that Astra studies conducted in the U.K. and Brazil kept progressing well even as the U.S. one suffered a halt. It’s possible the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will want to wait for the results of the local trial before reviewing the product, he said.
Compiled by Lehlohonolo Lehana.