The International Monetary Fund has approved a $4.3 billion emergency loan to South Africa as it reels under the coronavirus pandemic.
The country has the world's fifth largest virus caseload, and confirmed cases are approaching half a million.
The fact that Africa's most developed country for the first time approached the IMF for a loan is the latest sign of pain. Unemployment is above 30 percent and rising, and major state-owned enterprises were already in poor shape.
The IMF says South Africa is seeing a “sharp economic contraction,” though authorities responded swiftly to this latest crisis. The government weeks ago announced a historic $26 billion economic relief package.
Other African nations are watching how the country of 57 million responds to the pandemic as cases begin to climb in many parts of the continent.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
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