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13 September 2021
Get the facts – the #VaxxFacts – with IOL and UWC
Today, IOL and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) team up to bring you #VaxxFacts – everything you wanted to know about the COVID-19 vaccine but were too scared to ask. 

There has been a fair amount of pressure exerted from both sides of the vaccine debate. This 10-day editorial series will not enter the fray. Instead, it will bring you the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine from every possible angle with the help of UWC’s leading minds.
The series is positioned to give you the science necessary to make an informed decision about the vaccine.

UWC has been ranked among the top 800 universities in the world and is in joint 7th place of South African universities in the global Times Higher Education rankings. A big part of this recognition has come from the university’s work in the global fight against COVID-19. UWC researchers have:
  • Decoded The SARS-CoV-2 Genome: When COVID-19 emerged, scientists around the globe worked around the clock to find out more about the SARS-CoV2 virus behind the pandemic. Researchers from UWC’s South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) helped sequence the first SARS-CoV-2 genome in South Africa, providing a genetic “fingerprint” that can help us understand - and contain - the spread of COVID-19.
  • Isolated SA’s First SARS-CoV-2 Lab Culture: While much of the scientific and medical community has rushed to develop therapeutic agents for COVID-19 based on clinical data, getting a better understanding of the brand-new virus remains crucial. That’s why it’s so important that South Africa obtained its very first known laboratory isolate of SARS-Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on 1 April 2020, courtesy of UWC’s Dr Tasnim Suliman.
  • Modelled The Spread of the Disease: With COVID-19 disrupting nations around the globe, everyone wants to know what to expect in the future. That includes UWC Nuclear Physics Professor Nico Orce, who collaborated with international researchers to devise mathematical models of the evolution of the pandemic, keeping a close eye on how the model matched with (and diverged from) reported virus patterns in a variety of countries. 
The IOL/UWC partnership makes perfect sense. IOL has the audience, and UWC has drawn on experts from all disciplines of scholarly interest across its faculties – from Arts and Humanities, Dentistry, Education and Community and Health Sciences, to Economic and Management Sciences, Law and Natural Sciences.

The mainstream media has been criticised given the perception that it has not debunked fake news and myths - about the vaccine and the coronavirus - that are spread on social media and messaging services. This is part of the motivation for bringing you #VaxxFacts.

Scholars, academics and researchers will answer all your questions about the vaccines that UWC staff and students have volunteered to receive at its Vaccination Centre, hosted on its main campus in Bellville. The UWC Vaccination Centre, run in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health, has vaccinated thousands of staff and students and their relatives.

The editorial campaign will be presented in a multimedia format with opinion pieces, infographics, video and other forms of multimedia. Engage with the 10-day campaign on IOL with the hashtag #VaxxFacts on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, and become part of the conversation.

Lance Witten is the editor-in-chief of IOL, a platform of Independent Media. Gasant Abarder is the Media, Marketing and Communications Manager of the University of the Western Cape (UWC).