Inside Covid-19: SA’s new Covid-19 tracing app; vaccine trials; small business test challenges – Ep 79

In this episode, BizNews founder Alec Hogg interviews Gaurang Tanna, the national health department expert behind the launch of mobile app Covid Alert SA, which is aimed at tracing people who have come into contact with individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19. BizNews partners at the Wall Street Journal investigate the challenges researchers have faced in recruiting participants for Covid-19 vaccine trials. And, a small business owner discusses the expenses and struggle of having to test and monitor employees for Covid-19. – Jackie Cameron

Inside Covid-19 headlines:

  • As of this week, at least 628,259 people have tested positive for Covid-19, about 550,000 have recovered and just under 14,300 people have died.
  • South African taxpayers have been footing the bill for digital thermometers priced at just under R15,000 each. That’s one of the discoveries after President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered provincial and national government departments to publish details of Covid-19 tenders. Mybroadband.co.za reports that the national government spent R14.3m on digital thermometers to combat the Covid-19 crisis. Digital thermometers retail for less than R700.
  • In multiple studies involving a total of 1,700 patients, a number of corticosteroids – anti-inflammatory drugs that can damp the effects of an overactive immune system—helped reduce deaths from Covid-19 by about a third, compared with patients who didn’t receive steroids, according to the analysis published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 
  • A European Union health expert cited risks for EU countries in reducing quarantine periods from the standard 14 days, reports Bloomberg. Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said about 3-4% of cases will develop after the two-week isolation period. “The more you reduce it, the more of these cases will go undetected,” Ammon told a European Parliament committee.
  • Other experts say lockdowns don’t work. The Wall Street Journal reports that, six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health – first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections. This chimes with analysis by the South African group of actuaries, mathematicians and professionals, which call themselves PANDA (Pandemics – Data & Analytics) has been sounding the alarm for months that lockdown serves no purpose in saving lives. On its website, it reminds us that in more than 160 days of lockdown, at least 3m jobs have been lost and hundreds of millions of school days have been cancelled.
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