Monday | 12 July | 2021
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
During the lockdown the South African government abused its power with irrational regulations that eroded freedoms and by arbitrarily enforcing these regulations. In addition to the authoritarian attitude followed by the government with a command council that enforces decisions “with immediate effect”, several ANC officials looted relief funds.
The inevitable and understandable impact of the South African government’s actions is that people distrust the government, specifically as far as dealing with Covid-19 is concerned. This distrust, together with the extreme incompetence of ministers and the arrogance of the command council, has created a rich breeding ground for vaccine scepticism.
Reluctance regarding vaccines is understandable, given the nature of the South African government’s intransparent actions during the lockdown.
Yet the government still insists on being in sole control of the vaccine programme. In opposing court documents, the Department of Health replied that it did not have a monopoly on vaccines and that the private sector could obtain vaccines if they can do so. Then SAHPRA approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use, on condition that only the government may purchase this vaccine.
This insistence on centralising the vaccine programme is directly resulting in South Africa’s vaccine programme being way behind the rest of the world and even behind the average for Africa.
The government’s short-sightedness concerning vaccine planning is clear from the fact that there were almost no meetings in 2020 to obtain vaccines, whereas the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States ensured sufficient vaccines for their entire populations as early as August 2020.
In contrast, the South African government hastily tried to make plans in January 2021 to get a vaccine programme off the ground. Initial targets were to receive the first vaccines by the end of January 2021 and then to supply vaccines at a rate in terms of which 67% of the population would be vaccinated by the end of 2021. Part of this target was to have 5 million people older than 60 vaccinated by the end of June 2021.
This target was missed completely and the chances of reaching the target of 67% of the population appear to be a pipe dream.
Several pharmaceutical companies started developing Covid-19 vaccines in 2020 in order to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. In May 2020 at least 23 companies commenced with the development of a Covid-19 vaccine (Lee, 2020), and of these, only three vaccines were eventually approved for use in the US – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Worldwide, 18 different vaccines are being used, and only seven manufacturers have published their phase 3 clinical test results (Shrotri, 2021).
At this stage (28 June 2021), more than 2,9 billion doses of vaccine have been administered worldwide, with more than 800 million people fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Based on the data that Solidarity has collected from reliable sources, the conclusion is drawn that vaccines are safe and effective for people who decide to use them. However, everyone should make a responsible decision according to his or her own unique circumstances. Vaccines do not put an end to the use of important medication, including ivermectin, for the treatment of Covid-19. Neither does vaccination put an end to continued sound principles with regard to hygiene, physical distancing and maintaining good eating habits as well as other ways of keeping one’s health in good condition. Together we must and will conquer this pandemic. Too many of our people have fallen ill already. Too many have died. Too many have lost their income, assets and hope. We have to fight the pandemic together and overcome it.
A core principle that must not be undermined, however, is freedom of choice. Everyone has the right to bodily integrity, and Solidarity will protect this right. No government and no employer may compel an individual to be vaccinated.
No country with a successful vaccination programme has forced people inside or outside the workplace to receive the vaccine. Coercion creates resistance and reduces the success of a vaccine programme.
Solidarity will take to court any employer who unlawfully forces his employees to receive the vaccine. And Solidarity certainly will neither subtly nor openly force its members to make a choice. We trust our members to make responsible choices, in accordance with their own unique circumstances.
Making a choice requires good information. Solidarity has a research institute (SRI) with the best researchers who can conduct original research. This report is the product of comprehensive research by our SRI team. The following recommendations are made known together with the report on how South Africa can overcome the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Privatise vaccines
The South African government’s vaccine programme is a total failure. If we are going to wait for the government to make vaccines available to the broader South African public, a fourth and fifth wave of Covid-19 are going to hit South Africa before any significant number of people will be vaccinated.
It therefore is clear that the private sector, because of a failing government, will have to do something to obtain and administer vaccines. It is regrettable that the South African government insists on working against the private sector instead of trying to obtain vaccines as quickly as possible through any and all role-players.
Solidarity should do everything in its power to enable the private sector to obtain and distribute vaccines itself, specifically to ensure that the government does not maintain a monopoly on vaccines.
- Mandatory vaccination
From the countries with successful vaccination programmes it is clear that making vaccination mandatory is not a prerequisite for success. On the contrary, chances are that compulsion will increase resistance. If South Africa wants to succeed with its vaccination programme, it is more important to instil trust among the public in order to get voluntary participation.
Solidarity will oppose mandatory vaccination, especially in the workplace, to ensure that freedom of choice and bodily integrity are not violated.
- Covid-19 vaccines
Overwhelming data show that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The side effects compare well with other vaccines for other diseases. The vaccines do not guarantee that you will not get Covid-19 or even die of it, but they dramatically lower your chances of contracting the virus and reduce deaths even more.
Their effectiveness is shown by various countries’ vaccination programmes where substantial success has been achieved measured against real outcomes such as hospitalisations and deaths.
Their safety is shown by a negligible number of adverse events, specifically in the US. Once again, these are only a small number from among almost 330 million doses of vaccine already administered in the US. Furthermore, the absence of substantial adverse events worldwide is noteworthy, given the scale of vaccine administration (2,9 billion), and even particularly rare side effects would by now have shown symptoms.
Based on available data, Solidarity views the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines as safe and effective for members and the broader public who decide to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Every person should consider his or her own personal medical history before taking any medication.
Please use the following link to download the complete report, which contains reliable and noteworthy information on the Covid-19 vaccines: Click here.
The report is not intended to persuade any person, but serves as an attempt to inform Solidarity members as well as the South African public so they themselves can make informed decisions on Covid-19 vaccines.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.