Immunisation committee says they aren’t covering up COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths

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The National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee says citizens can be assured that COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths are not being covered up.

This comes after the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) could not link the deaths of 29 vaccinated people to the inoculation.

Seven percent of the population has been fully vaccinated while another 13 percent received at least one shot.

Over 9-million people have received the vaccine, much less than government’s expectations.  Many sites are experiencing low turnout.

The health department had planned to administer at least 250 000 vaccines a day, but it’s currently administering just around 180 000.

The department says the vaccination programme has lost momentum due to hesitancy.

But the National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee’s Professor Hannelie Meyer says there’s nothing to worry about.

“Twenty six of them were found to be coincidental to the vaccination, so it means they are not linked to the vaccine at all. Three cases are unfortunately unclassifiable, and this means that information about these cases was either completely absent or inadequate.”

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has received over two thousand reports of adverse effects after receiving the vaccine, most of which were not serious.

SAHPRA continues to investigate more cases. Vigilance Unit Manager, Flora Matlala says the results from this investigation is proof that vaccines are safe.

“We have vaccinated over eight million people in South Africa. However, we had about 2 000 adverse events.

That indicates that vaccines are safe. What is important is to note is that very rarely you’ll find anything that is serious, most adverse cases were mild. This is proof that the vaccines are very safe.”

The Health Department’s Deputy Director-General, Dr Nicholas Crisp, says the challenge is to drive demand and encourage more people to get the vaccine while working on dispelling myths around vaccinations.

“When we have information and it is thoroughly investigated, if there is a cause or link and a vaccine has caused the death which we know is possible then it will be reported as such.”

The majority of the 29 deaths that were investigated were elderly people with multiple comorbidities, while some had already contracted the virus when they received the vaccine.