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Current Awareness 2021: November

Up-to-date topics of interest to researchers

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What is current awareness?

Current awareness is the term used to describe staying informed by keeping up to date with the latest publications, research and news in your field.

The perspective of current awareness is the present and the forthcoming, as opposed to the retrospective. 

Current awareness ranges from looking for information on specific topics on a regular basis (and this usually involves the assistance of your Personal Librarian to help you set up a search profile matched to your research interests) to embracing a wider, more general, and cross-disciplinary view that brings an element of serendipity into your search for the latest information.

Informally, researchers remain alert in all contexts for useful information and insights that will inform their daily practice, their research, and spark off innovative and creative ideas for new avenues of research

Websites of the Month

World Health Organization's Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution

This independent group of experts meet regularly to discuss and analyze the impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants on transmissibility, clinical presentation, disease severity, diagnostics, and therapeutics and determine whether a given variant constitutes a variant of interest (VOI) or a variant of concern (VOC) according to WHO definitions.

The recommendations of the TAG-VE will be used to inform WHO on global, regional, and national COVID-19 prevention and control strategies and will be utilized by other WHO advisory groups, such as the Expert Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC), the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), and the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH).

Further reading

 Understanding the differential impacts of COVID-19 among hospitalised patients in South Africa for equitable response

Authors: N Phaswana-mafuya, MSc (Epi), PhDO Shisana, M Clin Psychol, ScDW Jassat, MBBS, MPHS D Baral, MD, MPHK Makofane, MPH, PhDE Phalane, MHSc, PhDK Zuma, MSc (Statistics), PhDN Zungu, MA (Res Psychol), DPhilM Chadyiwa, MBA


There are limited in-depth analyses of COVID-19 differential impacts, especially in resource-limited settings such as South Africa (SA).


To explore context-specific sociodemographic heterogeneities in order to understand the differential impacts of COVID-19.


Descriptive epidemiological COVID-19 hospitalisation and mortality data were drawn from daily hospital surveillance data, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) update reports (6 March 2020 - 24 January 2021) and the Eastern Cape Daily Epidemiological Report (as of 24 March 2021). We examined hospitalisations and mortality by sociodemographics (age using 10-year age bands, sex and race) using absolute numbers, proportions and ratios. The data are presented using tables received from the NICD, and charts were created to show trends and patterns. Mortality rates (per 100 000 population) were calculated using population estimates as a denominator for standardisation. Associations were determined through relative risks (RRs), 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and p-values <0.001.


Black African females had a significantly higher rate of hospitalisation (8.7% (95% CI 8.5 - 8.9)) compared with coloureds, Indians and whites (6.7% (95% CI 6.0 - 7.4), 6.3% (95% CI 5.5 - 7.2) and 4% (95% CI 3.5 - 4.5), respectively). Similarly, black African females had the highest hospitalisation rates at a younger age category of 30 - 39 years (16.1%) compared with other race groups. Whites were hospitalised at older ages than other races, with a median age of 63 years. Black Africans were hospitalised at younger ages than other race groups, with a median age of 52 years. Whites were significantly more likely to die at older ages compared with black Africans (RR 1.07; 95% CI 1.06 - 1.08) or coloureds (RR 1.44; 95% CI 1.33 - 1.54); a similar pattern was found between Indians and whites (RR 1.59; 95% CI 1.47 - 1.73). Women died at older ages than men, although they were admitted to hospital at younger ages. Among black Africans and coloureds, females (50.9 deaths per 100 000 and 37 per 100 000, respectively) had a higher COVID-19 death rate than males (41.2 per 100 000 and 41.5 per 100 000, respectively). However, among Indians and whites, males had higher rates of deaths than females. The ratio of deaths to hospitalisations by race and gender increased with increasing age. In each age group, this ratio was highest among black Africans and lowest among whites.


The study revealed the heterogeneous nature of COVID-19 impacts in SA. Existing socioeconomic inequalities appear to shape COVID-19 impacts, with a disproportionate effect on black Africans and marginalised and low socioeconomic groups. These differential impacts call for considered attention to mitigating the health disparities among black Africans.

About the monthly current awareness page

The year is marked with many special days, weeks, and months dedicated and devoted to raising awareness about important issues.

This monthly post, compiled by the Information Search Librarians Team, will note special dates and themes, and draw your attention to possibly interesting cross-disciplinary topical references intended to inform and to inspire ideas for research.

Selected noteworthy days in November

These organisations and sites will help you keep up to date with changes in the global Covid-19 pandemic and the latest virology news and updates:

National institute for communicable diseases of South Africa

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases

A resource of knowledge and expertise in regionally relevant communicable diseases to the South African Government, to SADC countries and the African continent.

The NICD's Covid-19 portal offers up to date information on any new Covid variants (such as the the B.1.1.529, also known as the Omicron variant), latests Covid-19 statistics for South Africa, information on vaccines, frequently asked questions and various reports, guidelines and resources.

Screenshot of the Covid-19 homepage of the NCID

World Health Organization

World Health Organization's logo

The WHO | World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations agency dedicated to global health and safety. The Organization connects nations, partners and communities to promote health and serve the vulnerable. 

The WHO's Covid pandemic portal covers advice on the virus; technical guidelinesinformation on vaccines, treatments and testsmember countries' reposonse to the virus and research reports


Screenshot of the WHO's Covid portal


World Society for Virology

Logo of the World Society for virology

World society for virology was established in 2017 in order to link different virologists worldwide in an official society with no restriction based on income or physical location.

They have world maps of Covid-19 cases and you can check the number of confirmed cases in different countries worldwide as well as professional detail of the virus as such as origins, clinical signs, receptor binding and spikes, virus stability, vaccines, sensitive antivirals and a virus database. 


Screenshot of the WSV's homepage

In the media

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Should you wish to read Current Awareness guides of previous years, please visit the archive:






Looking for upcoming conferences?

If you are looking for 2019's forthcoming conferences, the following websites are helpful:

Golden oldies

A Series Of Communications Small-Pox And Vaccination. The Epidemiology Of Small-Pox In The Nineteenth Century

Arthur Newsholme

The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2166, Special Vaccination Number (Jul. 5, 1902), pp. 17-26

...of measles described by Whitelegge, and with the pandemics of diphtheria which I have elsewhere described. We have, then, to study in relation to small-pox (i) its regular periodical epidemicity and (2) its less regular and less frequent major epidemics and pandemics . I began by stating that the study of...

The Results of Preventive Vaccination with Suspensions of the Influenza Bacillus

Augustus B. Wadsworth

The Public Health Journal, Vol. 10, No. 7 (JULY, 1919), pp. 309-314

...disease of this pandemic as compared with that of previous pandemics and epidemics. The epidemiological study of previous epidemics and even of this epidemic has failed to elicit many important facts which might have been determined by a systematic and complete record of the outbreak in different localities and under different...

Resources for Unisa first year students

Unisa has a wonderful First-year experience portal dedicated to all our first year students. You will find resources to assist you on the path of success studying at a Distance Education institution.

Under additional resources you will find useful information regarding: 

About your health:

Library information:

Academic support:

Helpful ideas:

Helpful resource spaces @Unisa: