The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported  19 842 new coronaviruses (COVID-19) infections in the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 3 071 064.

NICD says the coronavirus test positivity rate is at 26,8%  in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

A further 36 more people have succumbed to COVID-19 related complications. This puts the total death toll at 90 038.

The cumulative number of recoveries now stands at 2 867 966.  

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The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has approved a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in individuals aged 18 years and older.  

The booster shot is to be administered at least 6 months after the second dose.  

A booster shot of the same vaccine, has also been approved for individuals aged 12 years and older who are severely immuno compromised, to be administered at least 28 days after the second dose.  

These developments were announced today by Sahpra.  

The vaccine was initially approved in March. 

Preliminary laboratory studies demonstrate that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine neutralise the Omicron variant. That’s the word from the pharmaceutical company in a statement posted on its website.  

The company data shows that the protection provided by two doses is increased 25-fold with a booster shot.   

The companies say a third booster shot of their highly profitable mRNA vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test after finding that two doses resulted in significantly lower neutralising antibodies against the variant.  

The statement says that sera obtained from people that had their third booster shot a month ago neutralised Omicron about as effectively as blood after two doses fought off the original strain first identified in China.  

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says that although two doses may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the omicron strain, it’s clear from the preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose. 

COVID-19 | Warning of Omicron variant spreading rapidly among children: Prof Mignon McCulloch