IT STARTED with an interview on Al Jazeera, some brazen French researchers making shocking off-the-cuff remarks about a study on the potential use of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19 in Africa. Taken at face value, it appeared that the French were once again conducting openly racist, TB vaccine experiments in their former colonies. That’s TB as in Tuberculosis.
The story quickly escalated and amplified into a headline grabbing: ‘Senator Wetangu’la calls on African leaders to reject COVID-19 vaccine test on continent‘. As journalists failed to check if what was being said was relevant or even true. The French embassy was moved to caution that the researcher’s opinions “do not reflect the position of the French authorities.”
By Sunday, Anti-Vaxers were having a field day on twitter, but hadn’t bothered to check the facts. Yes, Covid-19 Vaccine trials are being conducted on EVERY continent, not just our own,
The first was a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an ‘investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)’ begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle, USA.
Phase 1 trials involve testing of drugs or vaccines on healthy volunteers for safety, and also testing multiple doses (dose-ranging). Most countries such as South Africa have regulatory checks in place to avoid citizens becoming unwitting participants to phase 1 trials.
Our Constitution specifically outlaws such experimentation and states under Article 12 (2) Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right— (a) to make decisions concerning reproduction; (b) to security in and control over their body; and (c) not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent.
Trials of Covid-19 related vaccines have already been conducted in Japan and elsewhere.
Large scale global trials involving patients from Argentina to Thailand under the auspices of the WHO are already underway.
There appears to be some confusion as to what a vaccine does, as opposed to antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Ekurhuleni mayor, Mzwandile Masina, recently proposed using the municipality’s emergency funds “to procure the vaccine Inferon B from Cuba”, a proposal debunked by Africa Check.
The possibility that South Africa will also receive an actual trial vaccine is a big deal, not because we are likely to become lab rats, but because citizens will hopefully be able to volunteer for the phase 1 trials to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine in creating antibodies to the virus — a therapy which could prove to be a game-changer in the global pandemic.
As with any new drug or therapy, there will always be safety concerns, but the alternative is to live with permanent lock-downs and quarantines.
I would rather just get a jab in the arm thanks.