More and more African countries have started to receive shipments of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines. Some have already used up their limited supply, while others are still waiting. But some have them, and don’t want them. This is a key challenge that vaccination drives face: vaccine reluctance. Heidi Larson and Raji Tajudeen reveal how, when vaccines were initially deployed, there was generally a positive perception of their importance and efficacy. Since then, there’s been more reluctance and apprehension as more information, often poor or inaccurate, becomes available. What makes things more complicated is that information has been coming in dribs and drabs, creating a fertile ground for rumour-mongering.

In spite of remarkable improvements in child survival globally, 5.2 million child deaths still occurred in 2019. Over half these were in sub-Saharan Africa and the five worst-performing countries were found here too. Just as significant are the huge differences in child deaths from one locality to another within a country. Peter Macharia and Emelda Okiro unpack the results of two studies done over 22 years in which they sought to understand factors behind child survival in each of Kenya’s 47 counties. Their findings provide important markers of what is currently in place – and what the threats to child survival are – at a local level. This is vital because national aggregates mask distinct local differences.

COVID-19 has led to widespread job losses and poverty in South Africa. People living in informal settlements are bearing the brunt of the struggle. In today’s episode of our podcast, Pasha, Ivan Turok and Justin Visagie discuss this worsening inequality and whether the government is doing enough about it.

South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, remains embroiled in controversy following its decision that all its members and leaders who have been charged with corruption and other serious crimes should vacate their positions in the party and government. Here’s a selection of previously published articles on the issue:

Moina Spooner

Commissioning Editor: East and Francophone Africa

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, receives the COVID-19 vaccine. Leaders have publicly taken the vaccine to encourage others to do the same. Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Vaccinating Africa against COVID-19: riding a roller coaster of poor information

Heidi Larson, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Raji Tajudeen

Recent uncertainty over blood clots and vaccine expiration dates have taken a toll on public confidence.

A community health worker attends to a baby during a free mother and child clinic for the public. Photo by Wendy Stone/Corbis via Getty Images

We gathered rich insights into child survival in Kenya by mapping patterns over 22 years

Peter Macharia, KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme; Emelda Okiro, KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme

Our findings provide an additional tool for determining what to prioritise, where to target and when to intervene.

Science + Technology

How we discovered the oldest human burial in Africa – and what it tells us about our ancestors

Simon Armitage, Royal Holloway

Burials seem to have been uncommon in Africa some 80,000 years ago, although they were widespread in Eurasia.

Tracking science: a way to include more people in producing knowledge

Glynis Joy Humphrey, University of Cape Town; Louis Liebenberg, Harvard University

The term "citizen science" is intended to widen the network of people whose contribution to science is acknowledged. But the word “citizen” can be problematic.


Pasha 106: COVID-19 is increasing inequality in South Africa

Ozayr Patel, The Conversation

More needs to be done to support South Africa's township communities.

Pasha 105: Two academics weigh in on Botswana allowing elephant hunting

Ozayr Patel, The Conversation

Is Botswana allowing the hunting of elephants a good or a bad thing? Two academics weigh in.

From our international editions

COVID vaccines: why waiving patents won’t fix global shortage – scientist explains

Anne Moore, University College Cork

Increasing skills and the availability of raw materials would be a bigger boost for vaccine production right now.

Developing countries need to chart their own course to net zero emissions

Navroz K. Dubash, University of Exeter; Harald Winkler, University of Cape Town; Lavanya Rajamani, University of Oxford

Countries cannot be expected to all tread the same path to net zero emissions.

En Français

Un nouveau vaccin s'avère très efficace contre le paludisme et la pandémie nous a montré qu’on pourrait le déployer rapidement

Adrian Hill, University of Oxford

Le vaccin R21 a protégé les trois quarts des enfants contre le paludisme lors des essais.

Les stars du football : célèbres parce qu’elles sont riches, ou riches parce qu’elles sont célèbres ?

Antonio Giangreco, IÉSEG School of Management; Barbara Slavich, IÉSEG School of Management

Résultats d’une étude sur la corrélation entre la notoriété des footballeurs et leurs revenus.


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Robert Sobukwe Road, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Cape Town, Western Cape, 7535, South Africa — University of the Western Cape

Early Independent Africa's Abortive Attempt at Industrialisation: The Case of Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah - A STIAS webinar by Emmanuel Akyeampong

10 Marais Street, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, 7600, South Africa — Stellenbosch University

University of Pretoria to host first Nobel Prize Dialogue to take place in Africa - Theme: ‘The Future of Work’

Future Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, 0083, South Africa — University of Pretoria

Annual Human Rights Lecture 2021

MS Teams, Western Cape, 7600, South Africa — Stellenbosch University

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