'People’s lives are on the line': Seven reactions to SA's vaccine 'moemish'
The EFF is among parties that have reacted to the news that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not particularly effective against mild to moderate disease caused by the dominant Covid-19 variant.
On Sunday, the department of health confirmed that the AstraZeneca vaccine provided minimal protection against the symptoms from the new Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2 or B. 1.351.
The batch of 1 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII) arrived in SA last week and it is set to expire in April.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said the results of the vaccine's efficacy were discovered after a small clinical trial.
He said the vaccine rollout would be temporarily halted until scientists figure out what approach SA will use to effectively deploy the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The first phase of the vaccine rollout would see health-care workers getting the jab first.
“I’ve directed that our scientists must, quickly, sit together and figure out what approach we are going to use to effectively deploy the AstraZeneca vaccine,” said Mkhize.
“It must be clear when that could be done, what conditions need to be fulfilled, what we need to do about all of this. That is the assignment that is given to our scientists. They'll figure it out.
“So it's a temporary issue that we have to hold on to AstraZeneca. It is temporary until we figure out these issues [and] what are the next steps supposed to be, then we bring it back.”
Since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit South African shores in March 2020, frontline workers have worked tirelessly and at great personal risk. Stories of sacrifice and loss, both personal and professional, are plenty on the country's frontline. While infection numbers drop and the arrival of vaccines brings renewed hope, these workers have seen this trend before. They're gearing up for an inevitable third wave. From ambulance, to hospital, to graveyard - MultimediaLIVE takes you to the frontline of SA's fight against Covid-19.
“This will lead to mass suffering and death”
In a statement, the EFF called for more research on the efficacy of vaccines against the 501. V2 variant by all vaccine manufacturers that the government entered into agreements with.
“The failure to efficiently procure vaccines with adequate efficacy, in time and properly administer them to the whole population will lead to mass suffering and death,” said the party.
“This can no longer be blamed on the pandemic: the mass suffering and death must be placed squarely in the hands of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Why should people die when there are scientifically proved medical interventions to be made If a government did not acquire available means to save lives?"
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“We may find ourselves in the throes of a third wave”
DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the setback for the vaccine rollout highlighted the need for a comprehensive vaccine plan.
“The news that the rollout will be halted due to the reduced efficacy in our domestic circumstances hamstrings this effort and means that we may find ourselves in the throes of another third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gwarube
“The admission by the department of health that this expiry date was only discovered upon the arrival of the stock is deeply problematic,” she added.
A comprehensive plan should be made public and available for scrutiny, this will allow for questions to be asked and recommendations to be made in order for us to get an effective vaccine.— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) February 8, 2021
This is why we are taking legal action against government.https://t.co/3nDLxGOeJP
“We cannot afford mistakes”
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane said the country could not afford mistakes.
He said SA needed robust testing of all available vaccines against all variants in SA with sufficient sample sizes.
“People’s lives are on the line. The economy is on the line. We need leadership that is precise and efficient,” he said.
1. We need robust testing of all available vaccines against all variants which are in South Africa with sufficient sample sizes.— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) February 8, 2021
2. We need officials who check expiry dates.
3. We need detailed logistics - a vaccine distribution plan that can be read & accessed by the public.
“Our health-care workers cannot wait that long”
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba called for urgent testing, saying the delay in the vaccine rollout will have a huge impact on health-care workers.
“If we cannot administer 1 million doses between now and April, the expiry date is the least of our worries,” he said.
I see a lot of people are upset about the April expiry date of the #AstraZeneca vaccines.— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) February 7, 2021
But let’s get real - if we cannot administer 1 million doses between now and April, the expiry date is the least of our worries.
Our healthcare workers cannot wait that long.
On social media, many users also reacted to the news. Here are some of the reactions:
“This is very scary”
All the news about the Astra-Zeneca vaccine and effectiveness against the South African COVID-variant is very scary.— Dr. Carolyn E. Holmes (@carolyneholmes) February 8, 2021
Also scary? Listening to a bunch of US-based broadcasters try to say the name Zweli Mkhize (South African Minister of Health). Folks, get a pronunciation guide.
“This was a huge oversight on our part”
I agree, well put. On the flipside, one could argue that the delivery of vaccines was an emergency. Had the efficacy results been satisfactory, recipients of those vaccines will have got jabs way before April (trial expiration) and all Vaccines would've been used up on 500k HCW.— Sean-Vincent Mofokeng (@PhokaTSV) February 8, 2021
“Being a leader during this pandemic time is hectic”
Being a leader during this pandemic time is hectic & is always gona be criticized, whether Mkhize & team would have waited to procure the vaccine or procured a vaccine that isn't efficient _he would have been criticized still— www.safiwaste.co.za (@SafiWaste) February 8, 2021