Flash Briefing: Cosatu slams ANC for vaccine incompetence; Moderna; Woolworths; Naspers

  • There were 112,280 more deaths from natural causes than expected in SA from May to January, reports Bloomberg. The South African Medical Research Council said in its latest excess death report published on Sunday. Weekly excess deaths, a measure of mortality exceeding historical averages, reached a record 16,093 by Jan. 10, the highest since the epidemic struck in March.
  • The Congress of South African Trade Unions, a key ally of the country’s ruling African National Congress, attacked the party for delays in securing Covid-19 vaccines and failing to provide income support for workers affected by the pandemic, says Bloomberg. In a submission to a meeting of the ANC’s top decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, the 1.8 million-strong labor movement questioned why the party is failing to implement its own plans. Relations between the party and Cosatu have frayed over issues including a decision to freeze the wages of state employees and end an income-relief program for workers who’ve lost pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and related restrictions. South Africa’s failure to start a vaccination program when at least 56 countries have done so has further inflamed tensions. But President Cyril Ramaphosa defended the government’s approach to secure Covid-19 vaccines, saying it had acted as swiftly as possible in the face of extensive negotiations to get sufficient doses.
  • South Africa’s only female banking boss, Basani Maluleke, has quit as chief executive officer of African Bank. Maluleke, also the first Black woman to lead a major bank in South Africa, will leave the board of African Bank on April 30, “to pursue other career opportunities,” the lender said in a statement Monday. Chief Financial Officer Gustav Raubenheimer will take over as acting CEO.
  • Nasdaq-listed Moderna climbed at the start of the week after it said its Covid-19 vaccine appeared to be protective against emerging variants of the coronavirus in laboratory tests, but that as a precaution it will start testing whether a booster shot improves immune responses, including a new vaccine targeting the strain first identified in South Africa. Bloomberg reports that the company said its vaccine produced immune-system agents known as neutralising antibodies against emerging virus variants tested, including strains first identified in the UK and South Africa. These new strains appear to spread more easily from person to person, and there are signs that the UK variant is more deadly than earlier forms of the virus, says the news service.
  • Woolworths and Naspers were among the best performers of the day.

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