Group of leading scientists come out in support of Glenda Gray who dared to criticise lockdown rules

23 May 2020 - 19:44 By Alex Patrick
Prof Glenda Gray, president of the SA Medical Research Council.
Prof Glenda Gray, president of the SA Medical Research Council.
Image: GroundUp/South African Medical Research Council

A group of leading scientists have come out in support of Prof Glenda Gray after a senior health official called for her to be investigated for daring to criticise the government's lockdown strategy.

Dr Anban Pillay, the acting director-general of the health department, requested that Gray's conduct be investigated, saying she had “made a number of false allegations against the government”, according to GroundUp.

On Saturday, the group of scientists, who include Wits vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib, Prof Jantjie Taljaard of the University of Stellenbosch, Prof Sean Wasserman of Groote Schuur hospital and Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, signed a statement of support for Gray and “the principle of academic freedom of speech”.

“As scientists, academics and policy experts, we are committed to being part of the complex policy response and debate on dealing with the epidemic of Sars-CoV-2 (the cause of Covid-19) in SA.

“We recognise that it is impossible to have perfected the response to the epidemic, but course correction should be rapid and not defensive. With that in mind, we condemn the specific threat made against Prof Glenda Gray for expressing her opinion in public, which is totally out of step with the public pronouncements made by the president, welcoming criticism.

“We uphold the right to academic freedom of speech, and call on the SA government to engage openly with alternate views, and for all of us to urgently work towards constructive solutions regarding policy, in the interests of the country.”

This after Gray, who is the president of the SA Medical Research Council, took a public stand last Saturday against the government’s lockdown strategy, saying it should be ended and replaced with non-pharmaceutical interventions such as handwashing, wearing masks and social distancing.

Gray is a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), a group of scientists tasked with advising the government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with News24, Gray said the MAC had not been consulted on any of the lockdown regulations and added that malnutrition cases were being seen at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital due to the strict lockdown regulations.

Sunday Times revealed the following day that she was not the only MAC member who had doubts about the regulations.

On Thursday, health minister Zweli Mkhize released a statement criticising Gray for her comments to the media. The acting director-general then asked that her conduct be investigated.

The statement was updated at 12pm on Sunday with additional names. It was signed by:

1. Dr Fareed Abdullah, Director: Office of Aids and TB Research, SAMRC

2. Prof Kate Alexander. SA Research Chair in Social Change and Director: Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg

3. Prof Cathi Albertyn, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand

4. Prof Lucy Allais, Professor of Philosophy, University of the Witwatersrand, Henry Alison chair of the History of Philosophy, UCS

5. Prof Dan Barouch, William Bosworth Castle Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Ragon Institute of MGH; MIT, and Harvard, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

6. Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, Director, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, University of CapeTown

7. Dr Peter-John Berlyn, Paediatrician, Kimberley

8. Priya Bhana, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

9. Prof Haroon Bhorat, Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town

10. Dr Duanne Blaauw, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

11. Dr John Black, Infectious Diseases Physician at Livingstone Hospital, University of Cape Town

12. Dr Michael Blackburn, Specialist Anaesthesiologist, private practice Johannesburg

13. Dr Johan Botha, DermAfrica

14. Natalie Bracher, Hutchinson Centre Research Institute of South Africa

15. Professor Keith Breckenridge, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand

16. Prof Adrian Brink, Head of Department Med Micro, University of Cape Town

17. Garth Brink, Family physician, Durban

18. Dr Susan Buchbinder, Professor, Medicine and Epidemiology, UCSF, Member, Executive Management Team, HVTN (in US)

19. Prof Catherine Burns, Associate Professor of Medical History; Adler Museum of Medicine; Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

20. Prof Sarah Charlton, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand

21. Assoc Prof Sean Chetty, Exec Head, Department of Anaesthesiolgy and Critical Care, Stellenbosch University

22. Prof Nithaya Chetty, Dean, Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand

23. Prof Usuf Chikte, Emeritus Professor, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University

24. Dr Wezile Chitha, Assistant Dean: Strategic Affairs, Co-Director: Health Systems Enablement & Innovation Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

25. Dr Jenny Coetzee, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

26. Prof Jason Cohen, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand

27. Dr Francesca Conradie, Clinical HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

28. Prof Demitri Constantinou, Professor: Sports and Exercise Medicine and Director: Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand

29. Prof Ashraf Coovadia, Chief Specialist and Head of Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand; Director of Empilweni Services and Research Unit and Head of Dept of Paediatrics & Child Health

30. Prof Larry Corey, Past President Fred Hutchinson Research Center and Principal Investigator of the HIV vaccine Trials Network.

31. Prof Mark Cotton, Dept of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University

32. Prof A Keith Cowan, Director, Institute for Environmental Biotechnology, Rhodes University

33. Dr Aslam Dasoo, Progressive Health Forum

34. Prof Joel Dave, Head of Division of Endocrinology, University of Cape Town

35. Prof Danie de Klerk, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand

36. Halima Dawood, Head of Clinical Unit: Infectious Diseases, Greys Hospital

37. Dr JC de Witt, paediatrician

38. Dr Albie De Frey, Senior Honorary Lecturer in Travel Medicine at the WITS School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

39. Prof Ames Dhai, Professor of Bioethics, University of the Witwatersrand

40. Dr Janan Dietrich, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

41. Prof Paul Dunne, School of Economics, University of Cape Town

42. Niles Eaton, HIV Vaccine Trials Network at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

43. Andries Engelbrecht, HVTN

44. Prof David Everatt, Wits School of Government, University of the Witwatersrand

45. Dr Gail Faller, Paediatric Rheumatologist. Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg

46. Dr Hannetjie Ferreira, MDR/XDR TB Unit, North West Province

47. Prof John Gear, ex head of public health, University of the Witwatersrand

48. Prof Jaya George, Head of Chemical Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand

49. Dr Elna Gibson, Paediatrician, Hermanus

50. Prof Peter Gilbert, Principal Investigator of the Statistical Data Management Center, HVTN

51. Prof Daryl Glaser, Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

52. Prof Debbie Glencross, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand

53. Dr Dean Gopalan, President Critical Care Society of South Africa

54. Dhevium Govender, HCRISA, HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN)

55. Prof Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor, University of the Witwatersrand

56. Dr Scott M Hammer, Harold C. Neu Professor of Infectious Diseases, Columbia University, Irving Medical Center, Member, Executive Management Team, HVTN

57. Dr Woltemade Hartman (Ph.D), Clinical Psychologist and Executive Board Member of the International Society of Clinical Hypnosis

58. Dr Rebecca Hodes, AIDS & Society Research Unit, University of Cape Town

59. Profr Shireen Hassim, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand

60. Dr Cara Hollander, Prime Hearing, University of the Witwatersrand

61. Kathryn L Hopkins, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

62. Prof Mitchell Hughes, School of Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

63. Prof Jannie Hugo, Department of Family Medicine, University of Pretoria

64. Prof Tracy Lynn Humby, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand

65. Prof Barry Jacobson. Head Clinical Haematology, NHLS

66. Prof Ian Jandrell, Dean, Faculty of Engineering the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand

67. Prof Jonathan Jansen, Stellenbosch University

68. Dr Bhavna Jasmat, paediatrician

69. Dr Zainub Jooma, Department of Anaesthesia, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand

70. Prof Stephen Jurisich, Head: School of Statistics & Actuarial Science, University of the Witwatersrand

71. Prof Kathy Kahn, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

72. Prof Bavesh Kana, Personal Professor, Wits University

73. Dr Yatish Kara, Paediatrican

74. Professor Jonathan Klaaren, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand

75. Professor Uma Kollamparambil, Head, School of Economics and Finance, University of the Witwatersrand

76. Prof Mariana Kruger, Executive Head, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University

77. Prof James Kublin, Executive Director of the HVTN, Medical Director of the Malaria Clinical Trials Center at Seattle Biomed, Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington

78. Dr Anita Lai, Private Practice, Sessional Rheumatologist at Helen Joseph Academic Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand

79. Dr Erica Lazarus, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

80. Prof Anthony Leaman, School of Economics, University of Cape Town

81. Prof Murray Leibbrandt, SALDRU, University of Cape Town

82. Engelbert le Roux, HCRISA

83. Prof Naomi Levitt, Emeritus Professor of Endocrinology, University of Cape Town

84. Prof Anthony Leysens, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University

85. Dr Susan Louw, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand

86. Prof Gary Maartens, Head of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Cape Town

87. Prof Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology and Director of the MRC Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

88. Dr Gloria Maimela, Director Health Programmes, Wits Reproductive Health and HIV  Institute, University of the Witwatersrand

89. Prof Helder Marques, Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand

90. Ms Velashka Martin, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand

91. Dr Troy Martin, Chief of Staff, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, HVTN (in US)

92. Dr Neil Martinson, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

93. Dr Moeketsi Mathe, private practice, lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand

94. Fatima Mayat, Perinatal HIV Research Unit

95. Dr Elizabeth Mayne, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand

96. Professor Marc Mendelson, Head of Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, University of Cape Town

97. Prof Colin Menezes, Academic Head, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

98. Prof Gesine Meyer-Rath, HERO, University of the Witwatersrand

99. Prof Juliana M McElrath, Professor and Director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Senior Vice President of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Member, Executive Management Team, HVTN

100. Prof James McIntyre, School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of CapeTown

101. Prof Shaheen Mehtar, Emeritus Professor, Stellenbosch University

102. Minja Milovanovic, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

103. Prof Adam Mahomed, Head of Internal Medicine. CMJAH, University of Witwatersrand

104. Dr Lerato Mohapi, Perinatal HIV Research Unit

105. Professor Yunus Moosa Chief Specialist and Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

106. Prof Rafique Moosa, Exec Head, Department of Medicine, Stellenbosch University

107. Dr Reno Morar, Chief Operating Officer, University of Cape Town

108. Prof Robert Morrell, Office of the Vice-Chancellor Department, University of Cape Town

109. Prof Mike Morris, Economics, University of Cape Town

110. Dr Firdaus Nabeemeeah, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

111. Anusha Nana, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

112. Prof Nicoli Nattrass, School of Economics, University of Cape Town

113. Dr Jeremy Nel, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

114. Prof Ntobeko Ntusi, Head of Medicine, University of Cape Town

115. Dr Jackline Odhiambo, HVTN

116. Dr Regina Osih, Senior Technical Expert, Aurum Institute

117. Prof Ruksana Osman, DVC Academic, University of the Witwatersrand

118. Prof Kennedy Otwombe, Perinatal HIV Research Unit & School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

119. Prof Vishnu Padayachee, School of Economics and Finance, University of the Witwatersrand

120. Dr Ravindre Panchia, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

121. Professor Maria Pappas, Assistant Dean of Research and Postgraduate Support, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

122. Prof Charles Parry, Director: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

123. Prof Jon Patricios, Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician, Associate Professor, Wits Institute for Sport and Health (WISH), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

124. Dr Beth Pheiffer, gynaecologist, retired

125. Prof Barney Pityana, Emeritus Professor, UNISA

126. Prof Sharon Prince, Head of Department of Human Biology, Faculty of HealthSciences, University of Cape Town

127. Shelly Ramirez, HVTN

128. Prof Peter Raubenheimer Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town

129. Dr Haroun Rhemtula, Head of Clinical Unit and Head of Obstetrics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, CMJAH and University of the Witwatersrand

130. Prof Guy Richards, Emeritus Professor, University of the Witwatersrand

131. Prof Robert Reid — HoS Mechanical, industrial and Aeronautical Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand

132. Prof David Root, HoS Construction Economics and Management, University of the Witwatersrand

133. Bill Rosenberg, BSc (Civ. Eng)

134. Emeritus Professor Bernd Rosenkranz, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University

135. Professor Jannie Rossouw, Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand

136. Professor Haroon Saloojee, Department of Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand

137. Prof Vishwas Satgar, Department of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand

138. Prof Lesley Scott, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand

139. Prof Soraya Seedat, Executive Head, Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University

140. Prof  Jeremy Seekings, Centre for Social Science, University of Cape Town

141. Dr Kate Shearer, Johns Hopkins University

142. Prof Gayle Sherman, Empilweni Services and Research Unit and Head of Dept of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of the Witwatersrand

143. Mr Fana Sibanyoni, Chief Operations Officer, University of the Witwatersrand

144. Prof Martin Smith, school of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

145. Prof Johan Smith, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health Stellenbosch University

146. Dr Julian Smith Paediatrician Pretoria

147. Dr Geetesh Solanki, Senior Specialist Scientist, Health Systems Research Unit, SAMRC

148. Prof Antony Stacey, President: Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), University of the Witwatersrand

149. Dr DM Stander, GP, Colesberg

150. Prof Wendy Stevens, Professor and Head, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand

151. Prof Mark Sonderup, Division of Hepatology, University of Cape Town

152. Prof Garth Stevens, Dean, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand

153. Prof Leslie Swartz, Professor of Psychology, Stellenbosch University

154. Azwi Takalani, Regional Medical Liaison, Hutchinson Centre Research Institute of South Africa

155. Dr Fazleh Taleb, neurosurgeon, private practice

156. Prof Jantjie Taljaard, Head of Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Stellenbosch

157. Dr Mvuyiso Talatala, South African Society of Psychiatrists, Department of Psychiatry, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

158. India Tindale, HVTN159. Professor Steven Tollman, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

160. Prof Georgia Tomaras, Professor of Surgery, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University; Director of Research for the Duke Human Vaccine Institute; Associate Director for the HVTN Laboratory Center

161. Professor Estelle Trengove, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand

162. Prof Imraan Valodia, Dean, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand

163. Prof John van den Berg, Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Pretoria

164. Professor Alex Van Den Heever, Chair in the field of Social Security at the Wits School of Governance

165. Prof CH van Heerden, Research Professor, Tshwane University of Technology

166. Prof Ebrahim Variava, Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand

167. Unnamed

168. Prof Martin Veller, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

169. Prof Francois Venter, Ezintsha, sub-division of Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, University of the Witwatersrand

170. Prof Zeblon Vilakazi, DVC Research, University of the Witwatersrand

171. Dr Avy Violari, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand

172. Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University

173. Prof Gerhard Walzl, Exec Head, Biomedical Sciences, Stellenbosch University

174. Prof Sean Wasserman, Infectious Diseases. Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town

175. Prof Nicola Wearne, Division of Nephrology, University of Cape Town

176. Prof Edward Webster, Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

177. Prof Michelle Williams, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

178. Prof Robin Wood, Director, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town

179. Dr Adrienne Wulfsohn, Emergency and Disaster Medicine, KZN180. Dr Martin Young, Private Practice

180. Dr Martin Young, Private Practice

 


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