(Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

A general view of hospital workers during Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize visit to Tshwane District Hospital to monitor the level of preparedness as the Province has become the epicentre for COVID-19 on July 10, 2020 in Tshwane, South Africa.

South Africa Suspends COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan Due to Resistant Variant

The South African government has decided to suspend the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan after clinical trials show poor results.

South Africa has reportedly announced that the country's COVID-19 vaccine rollout with Oxford AstraZeneca has been suspended. This comes after South African Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize publicly revealed that the latest trial data showed that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine offers limited protection against the latest coronavirus variant, 501Y.V2. South Africa received the first batch of one million doses of the vaccine from India last Monday. The health department's vaccine rollout plan was set to commence this February with the first stage aimed at healthcare workers.

Read: South Africa Announces COVID-19 Rollout Plan

According to Al Jazeera Mkhize explained that the discovery of new information and mutations of the coronavirus have led to putting a hold on initial plans: "When new information is brought to light and viruses change and mutate, decisions need to be made. This is possibly why the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout is on hold for now". The health minister called the suspension a temporary issue and stated that vaccinations will proceed according to the initial plan with a different pharmaceutical supplier. Vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer will reportedly be delivered in the country over the next four weeks, this according to IOL.

AztraZeneca on the other hand has reportedly claimed the vaccine to be effective, reporting that none of the 2000 trial participants developed serious symptoms of coronavirus. However, the University of the Witwatersrand which conducted the AztraZeneca vaccine trial stated that the vaccine "provides minimal protection against mild-moderate COVID-19 infection". Admittedly, the vaccine trail was conducted at the end of South Africa's first wave while the 501Y.V2 variant was discovered a few months later in the second wave.

Mkhize stated that the AztraZeneca vaccine batch will remain until scientists clear it for utilisation. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has reportedly shown to be 85 percent effective against the 501Y.V2 variant. Nine million doses are expected from Johnson & Johnson, 20 million from Pfizer and 12 million from the Covax facility. According to News24, the University of Oxford is in the middle of producing a "second generation vaccine" that will target variants resulting from the COVID-19 mutations.

Image supplied.

Interview: How Stogie T’s ‘Freestyle Friday’ Became a TV Show

Freestyle Friday started as lockdown content but is now a fully-fledged TV show on Channel O. In this interview, Stogie T breaks down why the show is revolutionary and talks about venturing into media.

When South Africa was put under a hard lockdown in 2020, Stogie T started Freestyle Friday to "make SA rap again." Freestyle Friday, hosted on Instagram, saw a different cohort of rappers each rap over the same beat picked by the veteran rapper. From niche and emerging rappers to some of the most notable names in South African hip-hop—the likes of AKA, Focalistic, Ginger Trill and several others all participated.

In the last few weeks, however, Freestyle Friday has found its way to cable TV. The show airs every Friday on Channel O, one of the continent's longest-running music TV channels. Freestyle Friday as a TV programme isn't just about freestyles, it's about the art of rapping and the music business, particularly SA hip-hop. Guests range from lyricists to record executives and other personalities aligned with the scene—Ninel Musson and Ms Cosmo for instance.

But Freestyle Friday is only the first media product Stogie T is working on as he is in the process of starting a podcast network, a venture in which he is collaborating with Culture Capital. In the Q&A below, Stogie T breaks down the relationship with Culture Capital, how the show moved from the internet to TV, why it's a revolutionary idea, touches on his venture into media and his future plans.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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