March 27, 2020: Blade Nzimande, South African minister of higher education, science, and technology, said R42 million ($2.4 million) has been redirected to Covid-19 research.

This includes funding for “preliminary work on the development of vaccines” against Covid-19 involving the University of Cape Town, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Biovac Institute, a partly state-owned pharmaceutical company.

The South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis will receive funding to update models to track and predict Covid-19’s spread in South Africa.

As reported by Research Professional News, Nzimande added that the Department of Science and Innovation is working towards local production of test kits, which will also receive a slice of the funding. He said the department had negotiated with facilities, including Biocav, centres of excellence in tuberculosis research, the Centre of Proteomic and Genomic Research in Cape Town, and health company Afrigen Biologics.

Nzimande added that the DSI is testing several drugs approved for other conditions as potential Covid-19 treatments.

A “central situational awareness platform” is also being established at the CSIR, Nzimande said, for rapid sharing and centralisation of Covid-19 data.

The South African Medical Research Council announced on March 24 that it will provide R13 million for the anti-Covid-19 response. Of the funding, R8 million will be used for disease surveillance at five hospitals, while R5 million will be for genomic sequencing at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

The team will consist of Universities South Africa, the South African College Principals Organisation, and the Higher Education and Training Health, Wellness and Development Centre, a national agency tasked with the health and well-being of students.

Read Full Article