Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 107 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.33 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,376 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,477,511. Deaths have reached 46,473 (a daily increase of 183), while recoveries have climbed to 1,363,947, leaving the country with a balance of 67,091 active cases.
- Updated vaccine: While data shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not effective against the local variant of Covid-19, scientists are working on an updated vaccine that will be. However, this will only likely materialise at the end of the year. The testing on the local variant was done on a sample of around 1,100 patients, with hopes that, given a larger sample size, the existing vaccine could prove to be more effective. [Moneyweb]
- Sputnik: A local firm says it can make 15 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine available for South Africa, which could be delivered by May. The Russian vaccine was first out the door in the race for inoculation against Covid-19, and has since been approved for use in 20 countries, with studies showing 91.6% efficacy. However, it is not yet known how the vaccine fares against the local variant. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- ANC comes first: ANC MP Dikeledi Magadzi has told the state capture commission that loyalty to the party comes first – even if it means ignoring billions of rands in wasteful spending. She said that MPs were in parliament representing their party, and that they will toe the party every single time. Magadzi was answering questions on why, as former chair of the transport committee, there were no investigations into the looting of Prasa, and why she opposed setting up an ad-hoc committee looking into state capture. [Mail & Guardian]
- Zuma corruption: While former president Jacob Zuma continues to dodge his time at the state capture commission, he may be facing corruption charges in court a lot sooner, after his co-accused in the arms deal, French arms company Thales, has opted not to challenge the racketeering charges against it. This means that the court case could proceed as early as May this year, where Zuma will finally have his day in court, which he claims he seeks as soon as possible. [News24]
- Markets: US stimulus hopes continue, adding pressure to the greenback. The rand continues to enjoy the current environment, with upbeat sentiment seeing the local unit maintain its recent run below R15.00 to the dollar. It’s another quiet day on the data front, as we take a look at JOLTs job openings from the US. The rand starts the day at R14.81 to the dollar, R17.87 to the euro and R20.39 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]